Macular Degeneration is a leading cause of central vision loss among people over age 50. Age-related macular degeneration is a chronic eye disease marked by the deterioration of tissue in the part of your eye that’s responsible for central vision. The deterioration in the macula, which is the center of the retina, which is located on the inside back layer of the eye. The macula is responsible for clear, sharp vision and is many times more sensitive than the rest of the retina. Without a healthy macula, seeing detail or vivid color is not possible.
Macular degeneration doesn’t cause total blindness, but it worsens your quality of life by blurring or causing a blind spot in your central vision. Clear central vision is necessary for activities like reading and driving. There are two type of age-related macular degeneration, dry and wet, but dry is the most common form of the disease.
Dry macular degeneration usually develops gradually and painlessly. Warning signs include:
- A gradual loss of ability to see objects clearly
- The shape of objects is distorted or straight lines appear wavy
- Increasing blurriness of printed words
- A decrease in the intensity or brightness of colors
- A dark or empty area appearing in the center of vision
- Increasing difficult adapting to low light levels
- Difficulty recognizing faces
Your vision may falter in one eye while the other eye remains fine for years. You may not notice any or much change because your good eye compensates for the weak one. Your vision and lifestyle begin to be dramatically affected when this condition develops in both eyes. Additionally, some people whose vision loss becomes more severe may experience visual hallucinations.
The exact cause of dry macular degeneration is unknown, but the condition develops as the eye ages. The following factors contribute to your risk of macular degeneration:
- Aging (Individuals over 60 years of age)
- Family history of macular degeneration
- Race- more common in Caucasians
- Gender- more common in women
- Smoking- smoking is the single most preventable cause of macular degeneration