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What is Macular Degeneration?

Photo of macular degenerationMacular degeneration is an age related disease that negatively impacts the retina. The macula, the center of vision in the retina, is damaged as this disease progresses. Macular degeneration is categorized into “wet” and “dry” forms. The dry form may involve calcifications forming in the retina, and the retinal cells may begin to decrease through a process called atrophy. The wet form of macular degeneration involves new blood vessels growing under the retina causing scarring and swelling on the retinal tissues.

What causes Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of poor vision in senior patients. The condition causes the vision to become gray or hazy and in some areas vision will be lost. The exact cause of the macula breaking down is unknown, but studies have shown that a relationship between smoking, high cholesterol, or genetics can cause a person to develop macular degeneration.

The retina is the most important part of the vision process, and decreased function of the central retina is a direct result of macular degeneration. As the retina becomes worse, a patient notices objects will not appear as colorful as they once had, and objects may appear to be missing pieces. Lines that used to be straight may suddenly be blurry or wavy.

Symptoms of Macular Degeneration

Decreased function of the central retina is a direct result of macular degeneration. The retina is the most important of the vision process. As the retina becomes worse, a patient notices objects not appearing as colorful as they once had. Progressively, the disease causes more damage to the retina and objects may appear to be missing pieces. Lines that use to be straight may suddenly be blurry or wavy.

Treatment for Macular Degeneration

There is currently no cure for macular degeneration but there are a number of treatments available that may slow the process, including Photodynamic Therapy (PVT). PVT is used to seal leaky blood vessels in the retina. Most macular degeneration patients will only experience mild to moderate visual loss over time. If wet macular degeneration occurs, vision loss may happen much more rapidly and will be more severe. Patients may gain a little vision with treatments, but once vision is lost it is very difficult to restore.