What is Macular Degeneration?
Macular Degeneration is the deterioration of the macula, which is the small central area of the retina of the eye that controls visual acuity, or sharpness of vision. The health of the macula determines a persona's ability to read, recognize faces, drive, watch television, use a computer, and perform any other visual tasks that requires on to see fine detail.
Macular Degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss among older North Americans, and due to the aging of the population, the number of people affected by age related Macular Degeneration is expected to increase significantly in the years ahead.
Macular degeneration is diagnosed as either dry (non-neovascular) or wet (neovascular). Neovascular refers to growth of new blood vessels in an area, such as the macula, where they are not supposed to be present. The dry form is more common than the wet form, with about 85 to 90 percent of Macular Degeneration patients diagnosed with dry form. The wet form of the disease typically leads to more serious vision loss.
Dry Macular Degeneration is an early stage of the disease and may result from the aging and thinning of macular tissues, depositing of pigment in the macula or a combination of the two processes. With wet macular degeneration, new blood vessels grow beneath the retina and leak blood and fluid. This leakage causes permanent damage to light-sensitive retinal cells, which die off and create blind spots in central vision. This abnormal blood vessel growth, is the body's misguided way of attempting to create a new network of blood vessels to supply more nutrients and oxygen to the eye\'s retina. Instead, the process creates scarring, leading to sometimes severe central vision loss.