Macular Degeneration is most often related to aging. Some unusual forms begin early in life, but most macular degeneration patients notice problems with their eyesight after age 50. When macular degeneration is present, the central field of vision (essential for most visual activities), is effected in varying degrees, while the peripheral or side vision is retained.
Macular Degeneration is classified into two types: the “dry” (atrophic) form which is characterized by deposits of yellow material (drusen) in the retina and the more severe “wet” (neovascular) form.
The wet form is caused by the growth of abnormal blood vessels, called “neovascularization,” across the macula (the central part of the retina). These abnormal vessels leak fluid and blood into the tissue at the back of the eye, causing a blister to form in the retina, which leads to scar tissue and vision loss.
While 10% of macular degeneration is the wet form, it accounts for 90% of the serious vision loss caused by the disorder. That’s because the wet form of AMD is characterized by choroidal neovascularization (CNV), which is the growth of new blood vessels which can leak and cause disruption of the retina. The normal course of the disease is progressive loss of central vision.
In the earliest stages, vision may become blurred for distance and/or reading. An important symptom is distortion. Straight lines will not look straight. A telephone pole or door frame may seem a little bent, crooked or irregular, similar to viewing an item through a heat wave. Also, you may see a dark gray spot similar to the after effect caused by a flashbulb. There may be other changes in vision. For example, an object may appear to have a different color or different size when viewed with your left eye vs. your right eye. These are important symptoms to report to your doctor.
Dr. Smith can detect macular degeneration during a dilated eye examination where he will view your macula with an ophthalmoscope. He may also use the Preview PHP for early diagnoses of the disorder. If abnormalities or drusen are found, treatment options and follow-up examinations will be discussed.