What is Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration is a common aging process that occurs in nearly every person who reaches 100 years of age. Macular Degeneration affects the macula portion of the retina, which is located in the very back of your eye and is responsible for sharp central vision such as that needed to focus on reading or driving.
How the Eye Works
Light enters your eye through the cornea and lens. It travels to the back of your eye where it focuses on your retina which is similar to film in a camera. If the film or retina become damaged, the resulting picture is blurry.
Dry Macular Degeneration
This is by far, the most common form of macular degeneration, occurring in 85% to 90% of patients with the disorder. This form appears as dry yellow spots on the macula. Many patients experience only mild vision loss or distortion in the beginning stages. Although your vision will slowly and progressively decline, it will not cause complete blindness. You may have dry macular degeneration for many years without any significant change in your vision or lifestyle.
Wet Macular Degeneration
This form occurs in only about 10% to 15% of patients with the disorder. The good news is that wet macular degeneration, if caught in time, can be stopped and often reversed. The bad news is that if it is not caught in time, vision loss is severe and sudden. Wet macular degeneration occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina causing distortion and damage.
How is Macular Degeneration Treated?
At this time, claims for successful treatments range from conservative to bizarre. There are many treatments available with questionable results. The only proven treatment at this time is laser surgery. Lasers are used to halt the progression of wet macular degeneration. Laser treatment does not restore lost vision and may cause vision to be somewhat worse after the procedure. Although this may seem counterproductive, this loss is usually less severe than the eventual loss that will occur if laser treatment is not performed.