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Macular Degeneration

What is macular degeneration?

There is a small area of the retina, at the back of the eye, called the macula. It makes it possible for you to see fine details of objects. When a deterioration of this area occurs, it’s called macular degeneration. It affects the central portion of your vision, but not the peripheral. Macular degeneration does not cause blindness and often has a minimal impact on your vision.

What causes macular degeneration?

Primarily, the process of aging. Age-related macular degeneration is the most common form, but why it develops is unknown. There is “dry” or atrophic macular degeneration, and “wet” or exudative macular degeneration. The dry form causes a gradual vision loss and results from the thinning of the macula tissues. The wet form causes a rapid and severe vision loss and results from the abnormal formation of blood vessels underneath the retina that leak.

What are some symptoms of macular degeneration?

If you find straight lines look distorted, words are blurred or you see dark areas in the center of your vision, you may have macular degeneration. It is typically not noticeable in the early stages. Your ophthalmologist can perform an eye examination to detect the early stages of macular degeneration. You may be alerted to the need for such an examination only when your blurred vision becomes obvious.

What are the treatments for macular degeneration?

Nutritional supplements such as zinc and antioxidant vitamins may help reduce the impact of age-related macular degeneration. However, they cannot cure the problem, nor can they restore lost vision. If you are at risk for developing age-related macular degeneration, though, they may help maintain your vision. Laser surgery and photodynamic therapy can help treat certain types of “wet” macular degeneration by slowing or stopping the leaking blood vessels that can damage the macula. Still, these procedures are not cures.