Update on Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration is the most prevalent cause of vision loss and blindness in America. Part of this reason is that we're living longer and that over time the macula breaks down. To better understand what macular degeneration is, I thought I'd take a moment to describe the process.
First, the macula is the small, central area of the retina with a concentrated network of receptors (mostly cones) which are particularly responsive to light and detail. To keep this area of the macula healthy, there is an awful lot of blood supply, hemodynamics and metabolic activity going on. In essence what happens is like a small city. Metabolites are used. Trash is made, deposited then picked up and carried away. Over time, this trash may start to build up and build small clusters of deposits we call drusen. Drusen are signs that the macula is having a difficult time managing the process of trash removal. By itself, drusen may not cause any change in vision, but it can lead to disruption of vision such as small blind spots or grey or dark areas in your straight-ahead vision. If the disruption continues, small breaks or defects in the macula can lead to fluid or leakage building up. This fluid can be a hemorrhage or just a watery fluid. Either way, it causes significant distortions of vision and can lead to permanent losses.
Macular degeneration, perhaps best described as a rusting on the central area of the retina, is usually characterized by drusen which can ultimately lead to fluid changes. Our job is to diagnosis early and try to prevent changes at the macula. Make sure regular eye exams are a part of your overall healthcare!
Posted on 06/19/2014 7:09 AM by Dr. Susan Kegarise