The most common symptoms of macular degeneration are blurry vision and distortion. Macular degeneration is usually diagnosed in patients over the age of 55 and is more common in patients of northern European ancestry.
The macula, the functional center of the retina, provides our central “20/20” vision and our best color perception. As you are reading this article, your eyes are moving to keep the text focused on your macula. When you are staring at an object, you are focusing the object on your macula.
Macular degeneration, wet or dry, progressively affects the central vision causing blurriness, blind spots and possibly distortion.
These symptoms are common to almost all diseases which involve the macula. Other diseases include:
- macular edema (swelling) from many causes
- epiretinal membrane
- macular hole
For reasons yet to be discovered, the macula degenerates with age. There are probably environmental risk factors, such as smoking, which increase the chances of developing this disease.
There are two forms of the disease: wet ARMD and dry ARMD. 90% of cases are the dry variety causing very slow, yet progressive blurry vision. Wet ARMD is hallmarked by the development of abnormal blood vessels within the layers of the macula. These blood vessels cause destruction of the normal retinal tissue and can leak fluid and bleed.
Regardless of the type of macular degeneration, symptoms of blurriness and distortion are essentially indistinguishable. Another characteristic of wet macular degeneration is the speed at which it destroys vision. The wet form affects vision much faster (period of days to weeks) compared its slower and more insidious dry counterpart.
What Can You Do?
If you have symptoms persistent blurry vision and/or distortion, make sure to get a complete dilated examination. While there are many causes of blurry and distorted vision other than macular degeneration, you want to make sure that you get an accurate diagnosis. Timely diagnosis and possible treatments may prevent or limit permanent vision loss.
We look forward to seeing you. If you would like to make an appointment or if you have questions about macular degeneration, please call us.