Macular degeneration is one of the major causes for people losing part of their sight. It accounts for one third of all visual impairment, and is most common in people over 55.
What is the macula?
At the back of the eye, there is a lining of cells sensitive to light called the Retina.
It is light striking these cells and turning them in to an electrical impulse, which makes us "see". Near the middle of the Retina is a small spot called the macula, which takes care of the central details of what we see. The macula works best in good light.
Why does the Macula degenerate?
We do not know exactly why the macula degenerates but it is thought to be part of getting older. The macula gets most of its nourishment from the blood vessels in one of the layers in the retina and the membrane that separates the blood vessels from the macula, breaks down, as we get older. New and abnormal blood vessels form to try to repair the damage, but they bleed and scar the macula further. As it is not getting nourishment, the macula becomes permanently damaged.
What happens to your vision?
The central part of vision begins to deteriorate although the side or peripheral vision remains intact. In the early stages central vision is blurred and distorted, detailed work becomes increasing difficult.
Can it be cured?
As the causes of macular degeneration are not understood treatment is rarely possible. Lasers may occasionally be used in the early stages of this condition to seal abnormal blood vessels.
Although macular degeneration cannot be reversed, blindness never occurs.
Side vision is a great help and people with it can carry on with their daily lives. Extra light and magnifying devices (low vision aids) may help for close work.
All information is for reference purposes only; if you have any concerns we recommend that you visit a qualified optician.