Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is an age-related condition in which the most sensitive part of the retina, called the macula, starts to break down and lose its ability to create clear visual images. The macula is responsible for the part of our sight we use to read, drive and recognize faces. So although a person’s peripheral vision is left unaffected by AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration), the most important aspect of vision is lost.

Macular degeneration usually produces a slow, painless loss of vision. Early signs of vision loss associated with AMD can include seeing shadowy areas in your central vision or experiencing unusually fuzzy or distorted vision. In rare cases, AMD may cause a sudden loss of central vision.

An eye care practitioner usually can detect early signs of macular degeneration before symptoms occur. Usually this is accomplished through a retinal examination.

Dilating the eyes can sometimes be a frustrating thing to undergo at your eye exam, but it's necessary so the eye doctor can get a better look at the back of your eyes. It allows your eye doctor to more thoroughly evaluate your blood vessels, the full retina and the optic nerve. If there are changes with any of those things, it's possible you may have an eye disease that would need further attention.

Many researchers and eye care practitioners believe that certain nutrients — zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin and vitamins A, C and E — help lower the risk for AMD or slow down the progression of dry macular degeneration. Benefits of high levels of antioxidants and zinc for halting or slowing development of macular degeneration have been widely reported based on results released in 2001 from the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) conducted by the National Eye Institute.