Almost 2 million people in the U.S. suffer from macular degeneration—a condition that causes decreased vision, and for some people, blindness.
The macula is a small spot in the retina, or the back part of the eye, that is responsible for central vision. If you have macular degeneration, you have decreased or loss of central vision. Central vision is important for such activities as driving, reading, watching TV, and performing activities of daily living, such as bathing and cooking.
Most macular degeneration is related to aging, and is called age-related macular degeneration (ARMD). Macular degeneration that is not related to age is usually caused by a gene passes on through families. This chapter will focus on ARMD, the common form of this disorder.
There are two types of ARMD: dry type and wet type.
If you have dry type ARMD, you may have deposits of drusen, a hard material, in your retina. Your retina is located in the back of your eye and converts the light your eye sees into the nerve signals your brain understands. Most people (85%–90%) with ARMD have the dry type, and they tend to lose their central vision gradually.
People with the less common wet type ARMD may suddenly lose their vision, particularly in one eye. The wet type of ARMD is caused by the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the eye. If the blood vessels leak fluid or bleed into the eye, there may be abrupt loss of vision.
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