Macular degeneration is a deterioration of the macula. The macula is a small area in the retina at the back of the eye that allows you to see fine details clearly and perform activities such as reading and driving. When the macula does not function correctly, your central vision can be affected by blurriness, dark areas, or distortion.
Although macular degeneration reduces vision in the central part of the retina, it usually does not affect the eye’s side, or peripheral, vision. For example, you could see the outline of a clock but not be able to tell what time it is.
Macular degeneration alone does not result in total blindness. Even in more advanced cases, people continue to have some useful vision and often are able to take care of themselves. In many cases, macular degeneration’s impact on your vision can be minimal.
What Are the Symptoms of Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration can cause different symptoms in different people. The condition may be hardly noticeable in its early stages. Sometimes only one eye loses vision while the other eye continues to see well for many years. But when both eyes are affected, the loss of central vision may be noticed more quickly.
Following are some common ways vision loss is detected:
- words on a page look blurred;
- dark or empty area appears in the center of vision;
- straight lines look distorted, as in the following diagram.
A large scientific study found that people at risk for developing advanced stages of AMD lowered their risk by about 25 percent when treated with a specific combination of vitamins. Listed below is the combination of vitamins that was proven to help slow the progression of AMD. This combination is available over-the-counter as "PreserVision AREDS 2 Formula."
· Vitamin C 500 mg
· Vitamin E 400 IU
· Zinc Oxide 80 mg
· Copper 2 mg
· Lutein 10 mg
· Zeaxanthin 2 mg
Testing Your Vision With the Amsler Grid
You can check your vision daily by using an Amsler grid like the one pictured here. You may find changes in your vision that you wouldn’t notice otherwise.
To use the grid:
- Wear your reading glasses and hold this grid 12 to 15 inches away from your face in good light.
- Cover one eye.
- Look directly at the center dot with the uncovered eye.
- While looking directly at the center dot, note whether all lines of the grid are straight or if any areas are distorted, blurred or dark.
- Repeat this procedure with the other eye.
- If any area of the grid looks wavy, blurred or dark, contact your ophthalmologist.