Macular Degeneration: The Leading Cause of Blindness

Richard Hamilton, MD, of the Center for Retina & Macular Disease, talks about the difference between Dry and Wet Macular Degeneration and the symptoms associated with its onset. 

The following is a transcription of the video: 

Why is Macular Degeneration such a concern for seniors?

Macular Degeneration is the number one cause of legal blindness is the developed world, including the United States. And we find that it becomes the most significant loss of vision in these populations.

The issue with Macular Degeneration is not just the impact it has upon the entire population, but how quickly it can happen. There are two varieties. There’s a variety termed Dry Macular Degeneration and another variety called Wet Macular Degeneration. We generally view Wet Macular Degeneration as the really bad version. The one that can rob a person of vision quickly on the order of days and weeks. 

The interesting thing about Macular Degeneration is that when a person starts to develop it, they usually start with the dry kind. And there are oftentimes no significant symptoms. If anything there might be very mild, subtle changes. But nothing that you might consider a major change in vision. And these developments of Dry Macular may linger for many years before a person develops the wet kind. Up to 1-in-7 people who have Dry Macular will develop the wet version. And they might not even be aware that they have the dry version because the symptoms are so minimal.

The wet, however, usually will be associated with blurring, with distortion of lines that are straight normally, they are perceived as distorted and wavy. And lastly, there may be black spots or blind spots that develop in or near the center, that can be very debilitating in terms of visual function. In the worst case scenario, a person can develop Wet Macular Degeneration in both eyes and develop a large scar in the middle of their vision, leading to a large blind spot. So large, in fact, that all that they have remaining is a rim or a ring of peripheral vision. They can see out of the sides, but they can’t see anything in the center. So it can be very, very debilitating. Not only in terms of their daily functioning, but in terms of their mood, their happiness, how they interact with other people. So, it is a very serious condition.

Learn More About Macular Degeneration.

The Amsler Grid is a chart used to test for Macular Degeneration. Download the chart (seen below) here to test yourself for Macular Degeneration.

normal amsler grid evergreen wellness

How a person who has normal vision sees the grid. Wikimedia Commons

amsler grid issue evergreen wellness

How a person with Macular Degeneration may see this grid. Wikimedia Commons

Last updated: 07.13.2017

Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and it is not meant to be relied on as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Consult your physician before starting any exercise or dietary program or taking any other action respecting your health. In case of a medical emergency, call 911.

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