The macular is the part of the retina that enables us to see fine detail due to a high density of light-sensitive cells.
Macular degeneration results from the breakdown of cells and build up of waste material, seen as drusen (see pic). The cause is unknown but there are numerous risk factors such as smoking, age and poor diet.
There are 2 main types of macular degeneration, ‘wet’ and ‘dry’.
Wet macular degeneration results in a sudden loss of vision over a period of days and is due to the involvement of new leaky blood vessels. The damage can be quite profound, though it is possible to limit any loss through ocular injections of, for example, Lucentis. If suffering from a sudden loss of vision it is essential that you are seen urgently. Like most conditions, early intervention makes a big difference to the final outcome.
Dry macular degeneration is by far the most common and affects people to varying degrees. It can take years for any significant reduction in vision. There is no known cure but it is now believed food stuffs high in lutein and zeaxanthin can help as a preventative measure and may also help slow down progression. Unfortunately, our bodies cannot produce these elements and they must be gained from the diet, kale cabbage and spinach having the highest concentrations. There are also supplements that can be taken that provide these elements in the optimal concentration. Ask for more details.
Macular degeneration only affects the central vision, peripheral vision will be unaffected. For this reason, better vision can often be achieved by looking slightly away from the object of interest.
If you have been advised that you have macular degeneration you should regularly check your vision using an Amsler Chart (a grid pattern) one eye at a time.