Macular degeneration is a condition that causes the macula, which is part of the retina, to develop small lesions or scars that cause loss of vision. These macular degeneration symptoms often mimic those of other diseases and conditions that affect the eyes, making it important to consult an ophthalmologist for diagnosis.
Macular Degeneration Symptoms
Macular degeneration symptoms vary in type and severity, ranging from mild, temporary blurriness to severe vision loss. Another macular degeneration symptom is a complete loss of central vision while other parts of the visual field remain intact. Sometimes, macular degeneration causes color blindness or difficulty with night vision.
Early macular degeneration symptoms may be non-existent or result in a few symptoms, such as:
Blurry macular vision: As macular disease symptoms begin to worsen, symptoms may include blurry macular vision, attributed to macular scarring and fluid build-up that causes the macula to become unstable.
Distorted color perception: In some macular degeneration cases, macular scarring can cause the macula to become distorted, which in turn creates macular changes in color perception.
Loss of shape recognition: As macular degeneration worsens, a person may have difficulty identifying shapes and patterns in their peripheral macula vision.
Later macular degeneration symptoms include:
Tunnel macular vision: When this macular disease becomes severe, macular scarring can lead to tunnel macula vision. This macular degeneration eye disease causes the central portion of the macula to close in on itself, creating a small opening of peripheral visions or symptoms that appear as a dark circle in the macula vision.
Significant macular distortions: Macular degeneration may create macular changes such as macular distortions in color, light, and dark areas of the macula vision. These macular changes often take form in both distant and near macula vision.
Moderate to advanced stages of macular degeneration symptoms:
Loss of macular vision: As macular degeneration worsens, a person can develop macular blindness. This macular degeneration eye disease causes the macula to slowly progress until it no longer functions.
Macular Degeneration Causes
Macular degeneration causes are often attributed to aging, genetics, diet, and/or family history of macular degeneration. Some macular disease symptoms link their causes to autoimmune diseases that attack the macula, such as lupus. Other macular degeneration causes include:
Completing a macular degeneration test and diagnosing the symptoms may include the following:
Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT): This macular degeneration test identifies macular scarring and fluid build-up in the macula. OCT uses light waves to create cross-sectional images of the retina and show macular changes.
Fluorescein Angiography: This macular degeneration test utilizes a diagnostic tool to show hemorrhages and other macular changes. During the examination, an IV is inserted, and a special dye is injected into the bloodstream. As the dye travels through the blood vessels, it will highlight areas of macular leakage.
Amsler Grid: Consists of a checkerboard pattern of black and white squares that a doctor will ask the patient to look at. In some cases, macular degenerative changes can cause a distortion in the macular area, which can be detected with this macular degeneration test.
Macular Degeneration Treatment
Currently, macular degeneration treatment focuses on stopping macular degenerative disease progression and replacing macular cells to improve macula vision. Treatments may include:
LipiFlow: LipiFlow is a macular degeneration treatment that uses heat to increase macular blood flow.
Lucentis and Avastin: Lucentis and Avastin are drugs used to treat macular degeneration symptoms, but both have been linked to health problems including endophthalmitis which causes inflammation inside the eye.
Macuview: This macular degeneration treatment uses an optical coherence tomography macular scan to measure macular thickness and characteristics.
Macugen: Macugen is an injected macular degeneration treatment that uses a substance called pegaptanib sodium to decrease macular thickness by slowing macular degenerative disease progression.
Avastin (bevacizumab): This injected macular degeneration treatment is used for wet macular degeneration.
Argus: This macular degeneration treatment consists of macular pigment eye drops utilized to treat macular degenerative disease symptoms by blocking blue light and protecting the macula.