Macular Degeneration

Degeneration of the macula is not uncommon as we age up. This is a serious eye disorder, where the central vision, that is, vision in direct line of sight, gets affected.

What is the Macula?

Macula is the most light sensitive portion of the retina, responsible for central vision.

What is Macular Degeneration?

Thinning out or degeneration of the macula is called macular degeneration. Since this is the most sensitive portion of the retina, its degeneration expresses out directly as blurred vision and progressive loss of vision on the whole.

Types

Clinically, two types of macular degeneration have been seen.

Dry Type

This is the commoner variety, where the macula thins out, thereby affecting central vision. A fatty deposition called, Drusen, may be seen under the degenerating macula.

The condition is generally seen above 60 years of age.

Wet type

Sometimes, the dry type may show changes, where tiny blood vessels start forming under the thinned macular tissue. There may be leakage of fluid, lifting the macula.

The wet type is always preceded by the dry type, or you may say, the dry type may sometimes complicate to become wet.

These vessels may arise from the choroid, which is the vascular layer of the eye, present between the retina and the sclera.

Symptoms

  • Progressive loss of vision is seen. In cases where the dry type converts into the wet one, there may be a sudden worsening of central vision.
  • The central vision, that is, vision in the direct line of sight is affected. Peripheral vision in usually not affected, so the affected person never turns totally blind.
  • As the macula deteriorates, color vision is greatly affected. Patient may find it difficult to differentiate between various colors.
  • Finner eye works are affected, like reading a book, recognizing faces, where minor face details are to be looked.
  • The disease usually affects one eye. however, the other eye may also get affect gradually, as the condition advances.

Why Does Macula Degenerates?

Why macula degenerates this way in some people is not completely known. It has been seen that the condition has a family trend, that may be related to their dietary lifestyle.

Deficiency of essential vitamins and minerals makes you vulnerable to degeneration of the macula.

Smoking has been seen to be closely related. It has been hypothesized that as you smoke, the tiny blood vessels supplying the eyes shrink. Thereby, the macula is deprived of its nutrition and starts thining out.

Having a heart problem may make you vulnerable.

Macular degeneration is seen in older age group of population.

Obesity or being over weight for your age and height.

Diagnosing the condition

If you note changes with your central vision, visit a ophthalmologist at the earliest.

You eye doctor would put eye drops into your eye to dilate it. Then, he’ll examine the back of your eye with a scope. Typically, the retina shows a molten appearance. This is due to the deposition of fatty tissue, called drusen, behind the macula.

He may use an Amsler Grid to directly check any distortion in your central vision.

Angiography of the eye may be done to directly visualize the eye vessels.

Management

Though there is no cure for the condition, early diagnosis may be helpful in arresting the progress of the condition.

Your eye doctor may train you for eye work with simple tips such as increase room light if you are reading or doing any eye work. Avoid going to restaurants or rooms having dim lights.

Quit smoking, if you smoke.

Weight reduction and healthy eating habits may help.

Supplements Suggested

AREDS kits are available which essentially contain vitamin C, Vitamin E, Beta carotene, Zinc and copper.

Taking this vitamin supplement on a regular basis proves helpful in most cases. The disease progress is slowed down to a large extent.

If you had a dry type of macular degeneration that has progressed to the more serious a wet type, there are drugs that may help. These medicines obliterate or block the new vessels getting formed beneath the macula. They also arrest further development of blood vessels.

This prevent s the dry type getting converted into the wet one.

The blood vessels may also be destroyed by photocoagulation, where laser beams are used to destroy the new blood vessels.

Omega 3 fatty acid, when taken in diet on a regular basis may prove helpful. You may find them in walnuts, almonds etc.