Macular degeneration is a visual impairment which is experienced when the retina no longer functions the way that it should due to deterioration. The retina is an integral part of vision because it is responsible for collection of light which is then transmitted to the optic nerve and brain. When the retina sends out the wrong information, the vision is jeopardized.
Macular degeneration is named as such primarily because of the section of the eye which it directly affects. The macula is found within the retina and this is considered as the central portion. When the macula is performing flawlessly, the individual maintains a 20/20 or perfect vision. This means that it is possible to clearly see the smallest details even at a distance. As the macula deteriorates, the vision becomes more blurry too. According to statistics, macular degeneration is age related and those who suffer blindness from this ailment are 55 years and above.
Though the adverse effects of this visual impairment often manifest during old age, there are observable symptoms in the earlier years. Among which are the following:
• There is a constant need for brighter light since normal lighting is no longer sufficient to see things clearly
• Words and numbers become significantly blurred
• It is difficult to recognize faces since the details can no longer be identified by the eyes
• The central vision appears to be crooked
• Later stages can already involve hallucination or seeing geometric shapes which are not really there
• The eyes takes longer time to adjust when the lighting conditions suddenly changes
• Colors no longer appear to be as vibrant
• The overall vision can become blurry or hazy
• There is a noticeable blind spot which means that the individual can no longer maximize his/her full field of vision
Types of Age-Related Macular Degeneration
There are two major types of macular degeneration. Hence, when the symptoms are observed, consulting a physician is necessary to be able to identify which type is affecting the vision. Once it has been confirmed, then proper medication which prevents fast progression can be taken.
1. Atrophic or Dry Form. The key in identifying this type is the drusen. These are small and round spots which appear to be white or yellowish in color. Drusen can manifest as a single or numerous spots. Patients who are suffering from this type of macular degeneration have gradually deteriorating macula cells. Hence, the central vision is impaired and gradually becomes more and more blurry. It is common for people over 70 years of age but in some cases, it can already be observed by those who are in their 30s and above.
2. Exudative or Neovascular Form. This type of macular degeneration is also called wet form. The vision deteriorates because there are abnormal blood vessels which start to form in the retina. This often has faster progression compared to the dry type. It is because the newly grown blood vessels can seriously destroy the retina once they start to leak or bleed. This is a more rare case but those who are affected by this can suffer more serious vision problems.