What is the Macula?
The macula is the center part of the retina that we look straight ahead with. The eye works like a camera. The retina is like the film in the back of a camera. The center of the retina is called the macula. When you look at someone's face or read a book, you are using your macula. That is where your fine vision is. The rest of the retina is for the side or peripheral vision. You cannot see well with your peripheral vision, but you can get around and function with your peripheral vision. Macular degeneration can cause central vision loss, but never causes loss of peripheral vision (side vision).
What is Dry Macular Degeneration?
Dry AMD occurs when drusen develop in the macula (see photo). Most people with dry AMD have normal or near normal vision. Only about 10 percent develop advanced dry AMD. Advanced dry AMD occurs when the retina thins out so much that the vision declines. We call the thin spots geographic atrophy. We recommend vitamins for patients with dry AMD and fish oil. Patient with dry AMD should follow their vision and amsler grid every day and report to their physician if their is a change in vision in either eye or a change on the amsler grid. It is very important to check each eye separately.
What is Wet Macular Degeneration?
Wet AMD occurs when blood vessels start to grow in the macula. These blood vessels can also grow with scar tissue and blood (see photo). Untreated, most people with wet AMD lose their central vision. With treatment, the disease progression can usually be stopped and often reversed. Promt treatment leads to the best results, so if you have a sudden change in vision that could be a sign of wet AMD, you should see your physician urgently.
Macular Degeneration NEWS
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What about Resources?
Dr. Pautler's Blog
American Academy of Ophthalmology
National Institutes of Health
NIH's SeniorHealth website covers the topic of Age-Related Macular Degeneration
National Eye Institute
American Foundation for the Blind - Senior Site
- Macular Degeneration
Basic information about AMD and low vision; includes a self-test using an Amsler Grid
Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)
- Macular Degeneration
Provides a general overview of the basics of AMD, and a simulation showing a scene as it might be viewed by a person with AMD
Prevent Blindness America