is the deterioration of the central portion of the retina—the macula, which is the area of the retina that controls visual acuity and color perception. Macular degeneration usually occurs in people over the age of 55 and is more common in people of northern European ancestry.
Symptoms of Macular Degeneration
The most common symptoms of macular degeneration are blurry vision, blind spots, and distortion.
New distortion should always be examined and can be monitored at home with the use of the Amsler grid.
Blurriness, blind spots, and distortions are also common symptoms in the following eye diseases:
- macular edema (swelling) from many causes
- epiretinal membrane
- macular hole
- diabetic retinopathy
Distortion is a common symptom of a disease of the macula and is does not signify a particular disease (i.e. get examined).
The macula provides our central “20/20” vision. As you are reading this article, your eyes are moving to keep the text focused on your macula. When you are staring at an object, you are focusing the object on your macula.
Macular degeneration can be wet or dry and both types progressively affect the central vision causing blurriness, blind spots, and distortions. However, the wet form causes more serious vision loss.
For reasons yet to be discovered, the macula degenerates with age. There are probably environmental risk factors, such as smoking, which increases the chances of developing macular degeneration.
The vast majority, 90% of cases, are the dry variety, which causes very slow, yet progressive blurry vision. Wet ARMD causes the development of abnormal blood vessels within the layers of the macula. These blood vessels cause destruction of the normal retinal tissue and can leak fluid and bleed.
Regardless of the type of macular degeneration, the initial symptoms are the same—blurriness, blind spots, and distortion. However, wet macular degeneration can destroy vision rapidly—in days or weeks.
What Can You Do?
If you have symptoms such as persistent blurry vision, blind spots, and/or distortion, make sure you get a complete dilated eye examination.
While there are many causes of blurry and distorted vision other than macular degeneration, you want to make sure that you get an early diagnosis so whatever eye condition is causing your visual symptoms, the proper treatment can be initiated early in the process.
Early diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases may prevent or limit permanent vision loss.