Macular Degeneration

Many elderly people slowly lose their vision. They go to their eye surgeon for cataract surgery, only to be told that they have macular degeneration, and that nothing can be done for it.

The inner lining of the back of the eye is the retina. It’s like the film in your camera. In the center of the retina at the extreme back of the eye is the macula (mack-you-la). It is a flat area, the size of a pinhead. It is responsible for our central vision. This is the special vision for color and recognizing fine detail.
The remainder of the retina picks up our peripheral vision. That is our night vision and black-and-white vision.

Macular degeneration is probably due to arteriolosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries supplying the macula. There may also be associated hemorrhages, scarring, cholesterol, or fluid leakage.

Because it occurs in older people, it’s often called age related macular degeneration. About 9% of the population over age 60 have poor vision from this eye disorder, and this increases to over 20% of the population over age 80. It is now the fastest growing cause of blindness in the U.S.

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