Also known as AMD, macular degeneration sets in when the retina is so deteriorated it starts impairing vision. Macular degeneration symptoms can be difficult to notice or recognize in the early days of the disease. The first signs, such as line distortion and differences in color perception, usually develop gradually. There is no cure for the disease, but advanced techniques like laser surgery can lessen vision loss.
Age related macular degeneration
Holding the title of the main cause for blindness in Americans over 60 years old, macular degeneration initially affects central vision and then further deteriorates the retina. The macula represents the central point in the retina which helps us perceive small details (like reading and writing) as well as color. AMD affects almost two million people in the USA. Diagnosing the disease is getting more and more efficient thanks to patient awareness and continuous treatment improvements. There are two types of macular degeneration. The dry type makes central vision become blurry. The affected individual may start to see small yellow spots. In the wet form of the disease, abnormal blood vessels start forming under the retina and eventually scar it, severally impairing vision.
Dry macular degeneration
This is also known as the atrophic form. The round spots the individual may start to see are named “drusen”. A simple ophthalmoscope or biomicroscope examination can set the diagnosis on the spot. The dots first become visible in people who are over 30 years old. You can have perfect vision without showing any symptoms and still have these white-yellow spots in the back of your eye.
Wet macular degeneration
As opposed to dry macular degeneration which develops slowly, wet macular degeneration progresses more rapidly. This form of the disease starts distorting vision in one eye and can spread to other one over time. Affecting around 15% of the people who struggle with age related macular degeneration, exudative macular degeneration is worse than the atrophic form. Two thirds of the individuals who lost their vision suffer from wet macular degeneration.
Macular Degeneration Causes
We’re still in the dark about what causes the disease. Taking into consideration the macular degeneration symptoms, it’s safe to assume that some of the risk factors include age and race. Recent discoveries revealed that smokers and people with light colored irises are more prone to develop macular degeneration. In addition, exposure to sunlight, some medications and family history can also contribute and help the disease settle in earlier.
Most common macular degeneration symptoms
- Blurred and poor close-up vision in one or both of the eyes often appear in the early stages of the diseases but they are frequently dismissed by the patients.
- Blind spots are among the most common symptoms, followed by white or yellow dots.
- A distinct symptom is when straight lines start to look bent. Affected individuals can also perceive colors differently with one of the eye and normally with the other.
- Micropsia leads to perceiving items smaller with the affected eye and normal with the other one.
Adults should go in for eye examinations regularly and not dismiss any of the above mentioned macular degeneration symptoms. Although we’re still far away from identifying AMD treatments, as long as it’s discovered in the early stages, the disease can be kept under control and vision loss can be slowed down or stopped completely.
For more information about eye health, check out All You Need to Know about Eye Health.