Our eyes are complex structures with many different components. The macula is a specific part of the retina – the area of light-sensitive cells found at the back of the eye. The macula is only around 5mm in diameter, but it is extremely important. It is responsible for our central vision, most of our color vision, and our ability to see fine details. This makes it essential for good eyesight and in supporting most of our day-to-day activities.
Unfortunately, like any other part of our eyes, the macula can be affected by problems. There are many different forms of macular disease, but one type is more common than any other – age-related macular degeneration.
Also known as AMD for short, age-related macular degeneration is a leading cause of vision loss in people over the age of 65 and is extremely common. The condition occurs when the cells of the macula start to deteriorate and break down with age, meaning that are no longer able to work as efficiently as before. Over time, this causes increasing visual impairment.
There are two types of AMD, known as wet and dry. Patients with AMD will always develop the ‘dry’ variety first which is where macula cells start to break down. However, a percentage of people with dry AMD will go on to develop the ‘wet’ variety. Wet AMD occurs when abnormal blood vessels start to grow into the macula, where they leak blood and fluid that causes scarring and visual impairment. Wet AMD can develop very suddenly, and prompt diagnosis and treatment are essential to prevent rapid onset vision loss.
Unfortunately, any vision lost as a result of AMD can’t be restored. However, with prompt diagnosis and treatment, it may be possible to prevent further vision damage.
Macular degeneration affects people in different ways and the rate at which symptoms develop can vary too. However, the most common signs of macula disease include:
Poor night vision
Dark spots in your central vision, particularly when you first wake up. This can seem like a smudge on glasses lenses, or a small patch where detail is missing
Colors seem faded or yellowed
Words may disappear when you are reading
Straight lines, such as lamp posts or doorways appear bent or wavy
Bright light and glare may cause you significant discomfort
It’s hard to adapt when moving from dark to light environments
Objects may seem to change shape, size, or color, or may move or disappear altogether
Struggling to recognize people
It’s not always known exactly why some people develop AMD and others don’t. However, studies have found that there are some risk factors that make the condition more likely. These include smoking, lack of exercise, excess alcohol consumption, and a poor diet. In fact, what you eat is extremely important for eye health, and many people simply lack this awareness and so don’t make the right choices when it comes to their diet.
Like all diseases, early detection and treatment are crucial. On the first Monday of every month, we open our office for AMD screening for patients aged 65 and over so that those who are at the greatest risk of the disease can benefit from the latest diagnostic technology and support for their eye health.
Using our technology to check for, and if necessary, diagnose AMD is just part of the story. Our knowledgeable and experienced team can also provide important advice on lifestyle modifications that could help to lower your risk of developing AMD, or in the case that you have already been diagnosed, could prevent your disease from progressing to advanced stages.
If you are concerned about macular disease, please don’t hesitate to contact our team to find out more about Macula Mondays, or to schedule an appointment at Marshall EyeCare in Aberdeen, New Jersey at (732) 837-0988 today.