Age-related macular degeneration is the most common cause of irreversible blindness in people over the age of 65. It is a slow progressive disease that affects the central area of the retina called the macula. This is the location of the retina responsible for central vision or the vision which gives us the greatest detail in our sight.
The exact cause of macular degeneration is not known but the earliest changes occur in the choroid (vascular layer of the eye) and pigmented retinal epithelium. These changes begin as thickening of Bruch's membrane which is the layer of the choroid next to the retina. These thickened areas become raised and have the appearance of warts. These changes produce loss of pigment and cell death of the functioning layers of the retina. It eventually leads to fluid accumulation, hemorrhage and scar tissue. Loss of central vision occurs but this rarely produces total blindness because the peripheral vision is preserved.
The disease commonly occurs over the age of 65 years but there are several hereditary conditions which can lead to this disorder at a much earlier age. Patients usually complain of blurred vision and difficulty with close work. They can also develop wavy lines and distortion of linear targets. There is loss of color sense and the development of scotomas (small areas of blindness).
At Valley Vision Clinic & Optical, we can help! For more information please call us at Valley Vision Clinic & Optical, 435-896-8142. We are happy to answer all of your questions!