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Caregiverlist Care Brief: Macular Degeneration

What Is It?: The bulls-eye center of your eye, called the macula (MAK-u-luh), contains the most concentrated collection of photosensitive cells in your retina. Macular degeneration occurs when these sight-sensing tissues in the macular zone of the retina malfunction and cause the loss of vital central or detail vision which causes causes difficulty in reading, driving and performing detail work. Dry macular degeneration, in which the tissue is not accompanied by bleeding, is more common than wet macular degeneration, and tends to affect adults age 50 and older.

Symptoms: Sometimes only one eye loses vision and as the good eye will naturally compensate for the weak one, it may take awhile to notice the vision loss. Increasing blurriness of printed words, difficulty in adapting to low light levels, a blurred or blind spot in the center of the visual field and hazy vision. Some people experience visual hallucinations of unusual patterns, animals and even faces

Treatments: There is no treatment available to reverse dry macular degeneration. However, this does not mean all vision will be lost. Dry macular degeneration usually progresses slowly and many people with the condition are able to live productive lives if only one eye is affected. Dry macular degeneration can progress into wet type of degeneration at any time which progresses more rapidly. Eye drops may be prescribed along with antioxidant vitamins. Suggest a magnifying glass for reading, appliances with large numbers and good lighting. Remember that peripheral vision remains while central vision is lost and night vision will be more difficult.