Macular Degeneration

Macular Degeneration Eye Care at Hampton Roads Eye Associates

Macular degeneration is an eye disorder that makes it difficult to see fine details. The condition affects the macula, the part of the retina responsible for central vision. It is marked by the deterioration or breakdown of the eye’s macula. The macula is a small area in the retina – the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye, which is responsible for your central vision, allowing you to see fine details clearly.

Types of Macular Degeneration:

  • Dry Macular Degeneration

This is the more common type and is caused by aging and thinning of the tissues of the macula. Macular degeneration usually begins when tiny yellow or white pieces of fatty protein called drusen form under the retina. Eventually, the macula may become thinner and the patient’s vision will worsen slowly over time.

  • Wet Macular Degeneration

Wet macular degeneration occurs when abnormal blood vessels begin to grow underneath the retina. This blood vessel growth is called choroidal neovascularization (CNV) because these vessels grow from the layer under the retina called the choroid. These new blood vessels may leak fluid or blood, blurring or distorting central vision. Vision loss from this form of macular degeneration may be faster and more noticeable than that from dry macular degeneration.

Symptoms of Macular Degeneration

In the beginning stages, you may not have any noticeable symptoms, however as it progresses, you may notice some symptoms, which vary a little between the two types of macular degeneration.

Symptoms of Dry Macular Degeneration

  • Blurry distance and/or reading vision
  • Need for increasingly bright light to see up close
  • Colors appear less vivid or bright
  • Hazy vision
  • Difficulty seeing when going from bright light to low light (such as entering a dimly lit room from the bright outdoors)
  • Trouble or inability to recognize people’s faces
  • Blank or blurry spot in your central vision

Symptoms of Wet Macular Degeneration  – these symptoms usually appear and get worse fairly quickly.

  • Distorted vision — straight lines will appear bent, crooked or irregular
  • Dark gray spots or blank spots in your vision
  • Loss of central vision
  • Size of objects may appear different for each eye
  • Colors lose their brightness; colors do not look the same for each eye
Recent advancements in the treatment of wet macular degeneration have allowed eye doctors and patients hope in regaining lost vision from these leaking blood vessels under the retina.  While it is true that we still do not have a cure for macular degeneration, early detection and monitoring can help to slow the rate of vision loss. This is especially true if there is a family history of macular degeneration.
Over the counter vitamins that contain anti-oxidnets have been shown in studies to slow the progression of macular degeneration.  Once again these are not a cure for the condition and your and your eye care provider can discuss if they are right for you.