What is Macular Degeneration?

Up close shot of a woman's eye in the light

Macular degeneration is a type of degenerative retinal disease that causes a progressive loss of vision over time. It is most often age-related, and people over the age of 60 are typically the most vulnerable to the disease.

The condition is so named because of the macula, which is a small region in the very center of the retina. The macula is important for photoreceptors in the eye to perceive different grades of light and certain details, which is why extensive degeneration in the area can ultimately lead to permanent blindness.

There are two main types of macular degeneration: dry and wet. Dry macular degeneration is the most common and less severe of the two. It usually progresses gradually, but it does put patients at risk for developing wet macular degeneration. Wet macular degeneration is caused by blood or fluid leaking into the macula, and it usually causes much more rapid and severe damage.

Symptoms of Macular Degeneration

  • Blurred or distorted vision
  • Blind spots
  • Reduced central vision
  • Difficulty adapting to low light levels
  • Vision loss

Because the macula is located at the center of the retina, people who develop macular degeneration will often first notice that their vision will be blurred or distorted in the center. You may also notice that you no longer perceive straight lines as being completely straight. Blind spots or distortions may appear in other areas of the eye as the disease progresses, and vision loss can be extensive or total if left untreated.

Causes of Macular Degeneration

  • 55 years of age and older
  • Genetics
  • Tobacco use

Most cases of macular degeneration are related to the aging of the eyes, and seniors are much more likely to contract the disease than younger people. However, there is a genetic condition that can lead to a form of macular degeneration in younger patients. In age-related cases, scientists have been unable to determine the exact causes of the disease, but there is evidence to suggest that both genetics and environment play a role.

Macular Degeneration Treatment in Jacksonville

There is currently no cure for macular degeneration, but there are several treatments that can relieve symptoms and stall its progression. These are most commonly given as ocular injections that inhibit new blood vessels, or prescription medications.

If you have noticed any symptoms related to macular degeneration in your vision, contact Florida Eye Specialists to discuss treatment options with one of our experienced ophthalmologists today.