Macular degeneration is categorized as one of the most prevalent types of eye conditions, common in people with an age-group of over 50. The symptoms and effects of macular degeneration may start to appear in one eye initially and could result in effecting both. The result is reduced central vision or mostly blurred vision, this occurs when the macula becomes thinner (a part of the retina), which is responsible for clear vision.
Over time, this disease will decrease the ability of your eyesight to carry out daily tasks such as read, drive, etc.
Types of Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration is mostly divided into three types, each presenting a unique case due to the nature of the disease.
The first type is known as Age-related macular degeneration which is further divided into wet (neovascular) macular degeneration and dry macular degeneration. Wet (neovascular) macular degeneration is caused when the blood vessels grow under the retina and leak, can be treatable through the use of injectable medications, laser treatment, and vision rehabilitation. Dry macular degeneration is also referred to as geographic atrophy; a condition where the light-sensitive cells in the macula are effected and destroyed, in this case, vision loss caused by the damage is irreversible, one of the effects of macular degeneration.
Serious eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration are the primary cause of blindness and low vision in the United States.
Stargardt disease is a type of macular degeneration prevalent in younger age groups or juvenile, hence also called juvenile macular degeneration. Stargardt disease is a result of genetic disorders, caused by progressive degeneration of the macula.
While there may not be a prominent Stargardt disease treatment, it is highly advisable to protect your eyes from the extreme sun rays, and avoiding high doses of vitamin A from supplements.
Myopic macular degeneration derived from the term ‘myopia’ used to explain nearsightedness. The effects of this condition are measured by the potency of the lens needed to fix vision. An individual may also suffer from ‘high myopia’, meaning highly nearsighted. When the distance between the cornea and the retina is increased, the retina can be stretched, causing cells in the macula to die.
What Are Some of the Commonly Found Symptoms?
Age-related macular denegation can develop gradually with no signs of pain or discomfort due to its effect on one eye initially where the other eye acting as a backup, which may prevent signs of detection of an eye condition. Early symptoms of macular degeneration include a sudden change in the quality of your eyesight and even distorted visuals of straight lines appearing before you. With time, this may deteriorate into a dramatic loss of your central vision.
Age-related (dry) macular degeneration often results in blurred central vision, for nearsightedness and farsightedness. The center of vision is effected mainly as it turns shadowy, and further increases as the disease progress. There may be an instance where blind spots may also be developed, causing immense difficulty to view color and focusing on attention to detail.
Whereas for age-related (wet) macular degeneration, the case may be slightly different as straight lines may start to appear wavy. In other cases, age-related macular degeneration patients may completely lose their central vision loss from time to time.
Such symptoms of macular degeneration can also be understood as the body’s ways of letting an individual know that not the eyes are not performing as they have previously, indicating a clear warning message. Some symptoms would need a detailed check-up by a medical professional, while others may be needed to overcome through the use of assistive technology or low vision aids.
Vision problems like visual field defects (wide angle of vision) can also be a result of this disease. The center area of an individual’s visual field may become blurry, distorted and, even lost and can be a major source of discomfort when reading, driving, or even watching TV. It simultaneously also effects the contrast sensitivity of your vision making it highly troublesome to see textures and comprehend subtle changes in your surroundings. For instance not being able to perceive textures in pavements or staircases due to limitation of visual sight can result in the risk of falling off the stairs causing serious injuries.
Poor visual adaptability to changing light levels may be one of the symptoms that you may be suffering from Macular Degeneration. This may cause extreme issues when driving and transitioning from a well-lighted room to a darker one. Anti-glare or UV sunglasses will serve as the ideal low vision aids to overcome issues with changing light levels or contrast sensitivity.
Just as it effects visuals based on light levels and contrast, depth perception is also impaired meaning the individual may be unable to perceive or judge distances resulting in missteps and falls.
The above-mentioned symptoms also take into account Stargardt disease which is prevalent in younger age-groups, having said that it is important to remember that other eye diseases and conditions can have some of these same symptoms such as central vision loss, hazy spots in the center of the vision, or difficulty in adjusting when moving from light to dark environments.
Symptoms associated with age-related macular degeneration if surpassed the initial stage can cause serious limitations with vision i.e. blurry or fuzzy vision, straight lines appearing wavy, objects or visuals appearing smaller, and the creation of an empty area in the center of the visual field.
Other symptoms may include reduced central vision in one or both the eyes, requiring a brighter light to read, difficulty in adapting to low levels of light, blurriness of words, reduced intensity of colors and difficulty in recognizing faces, dark portions or whiteout appearing in the center of your vision.
Common Stages of Macular Degeneration
Consulting eye-care professionals regularly can help to combat this disease at a very early stage can help reduce the effects of macular degeneration. If you are going through changes in your sight or vision, please do not neglect the symptoms as macular degeneration can progress rapidly, so early diagnosis can be a source of early treatment saving you from vision loss in the longer run. Early diagnosis/detection and self-care measures may delay the effects of the diseases, preventing you from complete vision loss.
Consult an eye specialist if you notice any changes in your central vision or ability to see colors as these changes may be the first indication of macular degeneration, particularly if you’re over age 50.
Though there are several low vision aids for people suffering from macular degeneration – it is safe to say IrisVision glasses qualify as the best low vision solution for macular degeneration, as this headset enables you to shrink the whole image captured by the camera lens to a much smaller area, allowing you to move it across your field of vision, giving you the ultimate visual experience with your leftover vision. In short overcoming all the effects of macular degeneration faced by a visually impaired or low vision individual.
This device will allow you to view the faces of your family and friends by moving the visual to your peripheral vision despite your central vision failing to pick it up.