What is macular degeneration?

The retina’s central portion, or macula, is responsible for focusing central vision in the eye, controlling our ability to read, drive a car, recognize faces, and distinguish fine detail. Macular degeneration refers to the deterioration of the macula. Its causes are not well understood.

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Macular Degeneration treatment at Grossnickle Eye Center
The “dry” form (or atrophic type) of macular degeneration affects the most central, clear vision in the back of the eye within the retina. Treatment of this type of macular degeneration is very difficult. The “wet” form (or disciform type), also affects the central vision. In some cases, laser treatment may help.

Macular degeneration occurs in “dry” form (or atrophic type) form and “wet” form (or disciform type), as described above.

Dry form affects up to 90 percent of macular-degeneration patients. In its early stages, tiny deposits appear in the retina, with few if any apparent symptoms. As the deposits increase in number, patients may begin to notice a small dark spot in their central vision, causing problems reading or driving at night. Dry AMD can progress to the more severe form, “wet” AMD.

In “wet” macular degeneration, abnormally delicate blood vessels develop underneath the retina. They may bleed or leak fluid that builds up beneath retina, causing it to bulge and damaging the eye.

The specific factors that causes macular generation are not well-understood.

What are the symptoms?
The first noticeable symptom of dry-form macular degeneration may be a small dark spot in one’s central vision, making such activities as reading and night driving difficult.

Symptoms of wet-form macular degeneration include vision that is blurred, wavy or distorted.

Because wet-form degeneration can progress rapidly and lead to permanent vision loss, early diagnosis is critical.

The Amsler Grid, shown below, is a simple tool to help test the macula. While focusing on the dot in the center of the grid, with one eye covered, answer the following questions:

    • Am I able to see the corners and sides of the square?
    • Do I see any wavy lines? Are there any holes or missing areas?

If the grid lines do not look straight, or areas appear to be missing or distorted, you should inform an eye specialist.

How is macular degeneration treated?
With early detection, some treatment options are available that may delay the progression of the disease.

Treatment for macular degeneration
Grossnickle Eye Center provides several treatment options for macular degeneration including intra-vitreal injections.

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