Macular degeneration is the leading cause of severe, irreversible vision loss in people over age 60. It occurs when the small central portion of the retina, known as the macula, deteriorates. The retina is the light-sensing nerve tissue at the back of the eye.
acular degeneration is a deterioration or breakdown of the macula. The disease breaks down the macula, the light-sensitive part of the retina responsible for the sharp, direct vision needed to read or drive. When the macula does not function correctly, your central vision can be affected by blurriness, dark areas or distortion.
Facts regarding Macular Degeneration
- Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 55. Legal blindness is defined as 20/200 vision or less with eye glasses.
- Thirty percent have the “wet” form, which can involve bleeding within and beneath the retina, opaque deposits, and eventually scar tissue.
- The “wet” form accounts for ninety percent of all cases of legal blindness in macular degeneration patients.
- Many older people develop macular degeneration as part of the body’s natural aging process.
- Any type of smoking or exposure to tobacco smoke can accelerate the development of the “wet” type of macular degeneration.
- The following are NOT known to be linked to macular degeneration: floaters (moving spots caused by debris floating in the vitreous fluid between the lens and the retina); dry eye syndromes; cataracts and cataract surgery.
- Macular degeneration appears to be hereditary in some families but not in other. Since macular degeneration affects most patients later in life, it is difficult to study successive generations in a family.
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