Macular degeneration is caused by the deterioration of the central portion of the retina, known as the macula, the inside back layer of the eye that records the images we see and sends them, via the optic nerve, from the eye to the brain. It is responsible for focusing central vision in the eye.
The disease robs the individual of all but the outermost, peripheral vision, leaving only dim images or black holes at the center of vision but, it rarely results in complete blindness.
It destroys the clear, "straight ahead" central vision necessary for reading, driving, identifying faces, watching TV, doing fine detailed work, safely navigating stairs and performing other daily tasks. It can also dim contrast sensitivity and color perception. Peripheral vision may not be affected making it possible to see "out of the corner of your eye".
The disease occurs most often in people over the age of 55 years old. This form of the disease is traditionally referred to as Age Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD).
Two Main Types of Age Related Macular Degeneration
There are two types of age related macular degeneration: One form is known as "wet" and the other is "dry".
Approximately 90% of the cases of macular degeneration are the “dry” (atrophic) type. It is called “dry” macular degeneration because it does not involve any leakage of blood or serum. It is not uncommon for a patient with the "dry" form to develop the "wet" form later, so it is possible to experience both forms at the same time, in one or both eyes. The onset and progression of either type do not follow any particular pattern.
While there is no cure for AMD, new treatments are available. The most effective treatment is Low Vision Rehabilitation. Training and special devices can promote independence and a return to favorite activities.
What are the Symptoms of Macular Degeneration?
- A dark empty area in the center of vision
- Blurring and diminished colors in central vision
- Distortion of lines and shapes
- Difficulty in seeing detail up close and at a distance
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