Macular degeneration is the general term for a group of disorders affecting the macula, the central part of the retina in the back of the eye. The macula is responsible for central vision, seeing fine detail, and helping distinguish colors.
With macular degeneration the retinal tissues break down resulting in loss of central vision. Symptoms of this disease include blurry or distorted central vision and sometimes a dimming of color vision. People who lose function of the macula often have difficulty with reading, driving, and fine motor tasks such as sewing. If macular degeneration occurs only in one eye, the symptoms may not be as noticeable, as the “good” eye will compensate for the affected eye.
People are at greater risk of developing macular degeneration if:
- their parents or grandparents have the disease
- they are 65 or older
- they smoke or used to smoke
- they have vascular disease
- they don’t use sunglasses
One test to help detect macular degeneration uses the Amsler Grid. The Amsler Grid, which is basically graph paper, is a tool for checking the reading area of vision and helps detect distorted vision.
If macular degeneration is suspected, sometimes a test called flourescein angiography (dye test) is done. With this test, dye is injected into the arm or hand and travels through the body to the eyes. Photographs of the retina are taken to show if changes have occurred in the retina and underlying tissue.
While there is no cure for macular degeneration, laser treatment can sometimes help slow the process of the disease if detected early enough. Macular degeneration rarely causes total blindness, because it doesn’t affect side vision.
Although the central vision can be significantly impaired, the remaining side vision is sufficient to allow for functional activities of daily living. Many people can even continue to read or do close work by using low vision aids such as specially designed reading lights, glasses and magnifiers.
To help prevent macular degeneration do the following:
- avoid tabacco
- wear sunglasses with 100% UV protection, even on cloudy days
- wear a hat when outdoors
- use a good multivitamin
- eat green leafy vegetables
This grid is known as the Amsler Grid and is used to help patients monitor their macular degeneration. Patients are given a copy of this grid, so they can perform daily vision tests. To take the test now, click on Amsler Grid and print out the grid. Then follow the directions for use.
If you notice any distortion click here to fill out our quick email form or call our office at 810-732-2272, and we will be happy to discuss your results