Our eyes are truly our windows to the world and are actually very complex organs made of many parts, working in co-ordination to make vision possible for us.
The macula is that region in the center of the retina which is responsible for our main, straight line of vision. With age, the macula is known to wear out gradually, causing a condition medically known as ‘macular degeneration’. In some cases where vision fails rapidly, macular degeneration leads to blindness, but otherwise with dry macular degeneration, it takes a long time for the condition to worsen.
However, there is another type of macular degeneration that can be much more dangerous, and that is the wet type. This is caused when there is an unusual growth of blood vessels between the retina and sclera, and they reach the region under the macula where they often start bleeding.
Signs and symptoms
The following are a few major symptoms of macular degeneration, which must be kept in mind in order to prevent or delay the onset of this degenerative condition:
- A symptom called ‘metamorphosis’ develops where the straight line of vision gets disturbed and vision therefore gets a little distorted.
- It becomes difficult to perceive the finer details of any object, like the color, or facial features of a person. This condition is often termed as “loss in contrast sensitivity”.
- The straight line of vision is not only disturbed but also appears to be blurred in the case of age-related macular degeneration. This is because of reduced cell functioning.
- This condition also manifests itself in the form of decreased night vision.
- Macular degeneration need not happen in both eyes at the same time. But it is likely that the other eye will eventually get damaged too, especially in the cases of wet macular degeneration.
- Pain is generally not an accompanying symptom of dry age-related macular degeneration.
- While the central line of vision gets impaired, peripheral vision may remain largely unaffected. This is one of the major symptoms of macular degeneration that helps in the diagnosis of the condition by proving that the damage is in the macula.
- More and more blind spots appear in the straight line of vision, and this is a symptom of a more rapid macular degeneration.
- In more advanced cases, it has often been noticed that objects appear bigger in one and smaller in the other. This is because of a possible swelling in the macula which distorts distance in the affected eye.
- Wearing glasses is not always the best solution because even if the straight line of vision is restored, contrast sensitivity need not be.
These are some major symptoms of macular degeneration, and the causes range from the ageing process to smoking or obesity. With proper diet, eye exercises and simple measures like watering the eyes regularly, this crippling condition can be delayed.