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Macular degeneration is a condition in which the central macula begins to lose its sharpness, potentially leading to blindness. An area of dark blurry vision appears at the center of visual field due to the loss of photoreceptor cells, blood capillary proliferation, drusen formation and macular edema.

Macular degeneration

Macular degeneration affects the central portion of retina (light-sensitive nerve tissue in the back of your eye) and is one of the primary causes of severe vision loss for individuals over 60 in the US. As part of this disease, light-sensing cells within macula begin to degenerate and cease working properly, leading to blurry or distorted straight ahead vision and often an Amsler grid blind spot in your central vision – though peripheral and color vision remains unchanged.

Damage to the macula can reduce your ability to clearly see fine details or perform activities such as driving or threading a needle. You may notice blurry areas in the middle of your vision or darker than usual spots; macular degeneration could even result in complete loss of central vision.

Macular degeneration comes in two varieties, dry and wet. In its dry form, tiny yellow protein deposits called drusen begin to form under the retina over time, gradually leading to thinned out retinal tissue that eventually stops functioning normally and eventually ceases functioning normally altogether. Dry ARMD is the most frequently seen type of this condition over time and usually develops gradually.

Wet macular degeneration is less frequent but more severe. Blood vessels under the retina may begin leaking fluid or blood, causing scar tissue formation in the macular area and leading to sudden loss of direct-ahead vision. Unfortunately, this form of macular degeneration may be harder to treat than dry forms.

Slow the progression of macular degeneration with vitamins C and E, lutein, zeaxanthin and zinc supplements from your doctor. You may also want to wear sunglasses in bright sunlight as well as wearing hats with visors when outdoors; avoid high-fat meals; and limit screen time usage for best results.

Regular eye exams are key in combatting macular degeneration. Your eye doctor can detect changes to your vision and refer you to specialists as necessary. Your doctor can use several tests to assess the health of your macular region, including an Amsler grid, fundus photography and fluorescein angiography. At this test, harmless orange-red dye will be injected into your arm and photographed as it travels to your blood vessels, taking photos along the way to detect abnormality or wet macular degeneration signs. Laser photocoagulation can be used to shut off blood vessels that leak fluid and blood. While wet macular degeneration does not have a cure, medications can reduce abnormal vessel growth and prevent leakage of fluid in some patients. Early treatment for wet macular degeneration could save your vision. It’s essential that treatment be sought as early as possible!

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