Macular degeneration or yellow spot disease is an eye disease, the most common symptom of which is blurred vision both near and far. In most cases, the disease is associated with ageing but in some cases macular degeneration can also occur at a younger age.
The retina of the eye can be divided into two parts – the peripheral area and the central area of the macula or yellow spot. The health of the macula determines a person’s ability to read, recognise faces, drive a car, watch TV, use smart devices and to perform any other detailed visual tasks.
The central vision of a person with macular degeneration deteriorates gradually, whereas the peripheral vision remains. The condition rarely ends in blindness. The condition affects one or both eyes and can affect their vision differently.
Forms of macular degeneration
There are two main types of macular degeneration: dry form and wet form.
Dry form is the most common, occurring in about 80-90 percent of those affected by the disease. It is caused by the formation of yellow protein deposits or drusen in the macula. This prevents the light-sensitive cells in the retina from working as intended. Dry macular degeneration causes gradual deterioration of vision.
In the case of wet macular degeneration, new blood vessels grow underneath the retina. These may bleed, leak and raise the retina. The wet form causes greater damage to the macula.
As dry macular degeneration can turn into a wet form, it is important to check your vision and perform an Amsler grid test to discover any possible changes in the macular area.
Symptoms of macular degeneration
Early symptoms of macular degeneration include dark spots in the middle of the field of vision and blurred vision. While reading, you may notice the text becoming wavy or distorted. In addition to the abovementioned, vision can be significantly impaired in poor lighting conditions and sensitivity to light may occur.
Causes of macular degeneration
Macular degeneration is mainly associated with ageing, but a genetic link has also been found.
Risk factors for macular degeneration include:
- cardiovascular diseases;
- genetic predisposition;
- secondary factors (UV radiation, female sex).
There is no direct treatment for macular degeneration, but there are various methods to stop its further development and improve vision.
Changing your eating habits and taking food supplements can help in the case of dry macular degeneration. Intraocular injections can be used to stop the progression of the wet form.