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Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is a disorder that causes a loss of the cells in the macula and areas of the retina immediately surrounding it. This may result in a central blurring of vision initially, to a total loss of central vision in its stages of final progression. This condition may present in two main ways, wet and dry.

The dry form is the more common, seen in about 90% of all patients with macular degeneration. This form is usually much slower in its progression, but in its final stages may threaten most of the central vision and those macular functions associated with it.

In the wet form a great deal of central function may be lost in a very short period of time. It is critical in the wet form to seek immediate evaluation and treatment by an Ophthalmologist highly skilled and trained in the retina of the eye.

Patients with macular degeneration may experience a wide range of symptoms including:

  • Blurry central vision to a total loss of central vision
  • Reduction to total loss of color perception = colors may not look as “they should” to “everything looks black and white”.
  • Distortion of vision. Things may appear to be wavy or irregular.
  • Decreased contrast sensitivity. It is easier to see things that are black and white with greater contrast differences in them then to see things like noses and cheeks that have almost the same levels of contrast.
  • Recovery from changes in light levels. It may take much longer to see inside after being out in very bright light and then returning to an environment that is more dimly illuminated.
  • Severe sensitivity to light (Photophobia). Even lights that aren’t very bright to a normal eye may result in high levels of discomfort to a patient with macular degeneration. Sometimes patients with macular degeneration will see well at night or in dimly lit areas because they are then able to use the rod system of cells which is generally in the periphery of the retina.
  • Reduced depth perception. Inability to judge how far away different objects may be.

The Low Vision Institute offers comprehensive macular degeneration treatment options to all patients affected by the disease.

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