As the name suggests, macular degeneration results from a deterioration of the macula, a small area of the retina located at the back of the eye, near the optic nerve. This part of the eye allows you to see fine details.
A combination of factors can cause macular degeneration. The main factor is age. Around one person in seven age 55 and over has the condition, and one in three people age 75 and over. Lifestyle habits such as smoking and malnutrition are factors associated with macular degeneration. Exposure to bright sunlight can also accelerate the disease.
Macular degeneration can take two forms:
- The dry form is most common and accounts for 85 to 90% of cases. It is also the least serious. This form of the disease progresses slowly, so those with the condition tend to gradually adapt to their visual impairment.
- The wet form causes rapid and significant loss of central vision. Central blindness can occur very quickly, i.e., over a period ranging from several weeks to two years. However, macular degeneration never results in complete blindness, since peripheral vision is unchanged.
Neither form of macular degeneration causes pain, so to know if you have the disease, you must pay careful attention to the symptoms. The most common sign is blurred vision, especially in the center of the field of vision. This is what makes you see faces or words in a book more clearly. At a more advanced stage, there will be a black area in the center of your vision. Another common symptom is that straight lines appear distorted.
However, there are various ways to prevent or at least slow macular degeneration. Of course, having your eyes examined by your eye care professional is the best way to diagnose the disease. Eating a healthy diet, not smoking, and wearing sunglasses will also help you prevent the condition. For more information, talk to your Opto-Réseau vision professional.