Macular degeneration is a progressive disease that affects the cells in the back part of your eye, which allows you to visualize objects that are straight ahead. Over time it damages your capacity for sharp, central vision. With macular degeneration, it becomes increasingly more difficult to perform daily tasks such as reading or writing as well as recognizing faces or colors. Among the early signs of vision loss from macular degeneration, are shadowy areas in your central vision and unusually fuzzy or distorted vision. While individuals with advanced cases of macular degeneration are considered legally blind as the result of a profound loss of central vision, their peripheral vision, which is less clear than central vision, is retained. Most people do not experience vision loss in the early stage of age-related macular degeneration and the progression can be slow and painless.
An eye doctor can often detect early signs of macular degeneration before any symptoms are experienced. If signs of the condition are found, additional tests to verify the diagnosis may be ordered. Once the diagnosis has been confirmed, treatment to manage the condition and to slow the progression will be prescribed.
According to the National Eye Institute, over two million adults in the United States have age-related macular degeneration with that number expected to double within the next thirty years. While one defense against age-related vision loss is a nutritious diet and a healthy lifestyle, regular comprehensive eye exams are essential in order to protect the health of your eyes and the quality of your vision.