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How to Recognize Signs of Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is an eye condition that causes eyesight to deteriorate, commonly in the center of your field of vision. Unfortunately, this eye condition is becoming more and more prevalent, so it’s important to be able to recognize the signs of macular degeneration—especially for those over age 50. It’s commonly caused by age-related damage to the macula, the part of your eye that’s responsible for central vision.

So how can you recognize the signs of macular degeneration? First, it’s important to understand the types of the condition.

Nonexudative (Dry) Macular Degeneration

This form of macular degeneration results from a thinning of your macula, causing it to dry out and lose its ability to function fully. It’s more common than wet macular degeneration and progresses much slower.

It can cause difficulty doing things like reading due to the loss in central vision and make it harder to see in low-light situations.

Exudative (Wet) Macular Degeneration

Wet macular degeneration occurs when blood vessels grow, causing blood or fluid leak into the retina, which leads to vision loss. The loss of vision from this form of the condition can be dramatic.

The good news is that medication and treatment for exudative macular degeneration has come a long way in the last two decades, so it’s very treatable.

What Are the Signs of Macular Degeneration?

The most common symptom of macular degeneration is impaired vision. This vision impairment can come in many forms, such as blurriness and distortion. Here are the common signs to look out for.

Macular degeneration symptoms include:

  • Visual distortion

    • Straight lines may appear skewed in the affected area of your vision. Lines might also appear wavy when they’re actually straight.

  • Impaired central field of vision

    • The center of vision could be blurry due to dead or dying cells in the macula. The center of your visual field might appear blurry or blank altogether.

  • Difficulty reading

    • Macular degeneration affects vision in a way that can make it difficult to see small details up close, like printed words, especially in low-light situations.

  • Colors appearing less intense or vivid

    • Cone photoreceptor cells, which perceive color, are very prevalent in the macula. As the macula becomes damaged, the loss of cone cells hurts the ability to perceive color.

  • Blurry patches in your field of vision

    • Like the loss of central vision, blurry patches are caused by deterioration of the cells in the macula.

  • Difficulty adjusting to low light

    • Macular cells are responsible for how our eyes adapt to the lighting of our surroundings. As these cells become damaged, so does the ability to adapt to lighting changes around us.

  • Difficulty discerning fine visual details

    • Loss of central vision can seem like a smudge or black spot in the center of vision, making it hard to focus on fine details like words on a page.

Unfortunately, these symptoms typically develop slowly over time without physical pain, so they can be tough to notice. Since it can affect one or both eyes, one eye may adapt to make up for the other’s shortcomings, too. This can make it even more difficult to notice.

Don’t Wait to Treat Macular Degeneration

The good news is that macular degeneration is very treatable, and loss of vision from it can be prevented if treated properly in a timely manner.

If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, don’t wait to get your eyes checked. Schedule an appointment to speak with your eye doctor by giving us a call at 402.933.6600 or schedule online today!