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What is Macular Degeneration?

The "macula" is a part of the retina, but focuses on specific tasks. I call these the "fine tuning" tasks: things such as threading a needle, pulling the marshmallows out of your lucky charms, and reading a newspaper. This is opposed to the "peripheral retina" which controls all of your side vision. So now that we know what the macula is, let's look at what macular degeneration is.

 

What is Macular Degeneration, and what types are there?

Simply put, MD is when you have damage to the retina, and it causes vision impairment or vision loss all together. This is generally caused by old age, but has different causes for the degeneration. So let's take a look at those:

 

Dry Macular Degeneration - 

Dry Macular Degeneration is the most common type of MD accounting for 90% of the total cases. As shown from the video above, this is a result of small fatty deposits building up behind the retina. This is a slow and ongoing process, hence: degeneration. This is generally caused by dry eyes, which is common in elderly people. Luckily, when compared to other eye related diseases such as glaucoma or cataracts, MD almost never leads to full vision loss.

Some common symptoms include dark areas or distortion in your central field of vision, blurriness, vision loss, nausea and headaches. If you have any signs of dry md, you need to go see your eye doctor asap. The sooner you diagnose it as md, the quicker you can take action.

Wet Macular Degeneration - 

 

Wet macular degeneration is very similar to dry MD, but stems from a different cause. In wet MD, abnormal blood vessels start to build up behind the retina similarly to the fatty deposits in dry MD. These blood vessels then leak blood or fluid into the eye, distorting vision. (the vessels can even burst in some occasions, really damaging the retina). The longer you let these vessels sit without taking any action, the higher your risk is for vision loss.

Luckily, wet MD is rare, and only accounts for 10% of overall macular degeneration sufferers. The best strategy to save yourself from wet md is to make sure you are going to regular doctor appointments. This is crucial for all types of eye related diseases.

I would like to highlight again that macular degeneration almost never leads to full, permanent vision loss. However, that doesn't mean it isn't something to take very seriously. If left untreated it can damage your retina very badly and lead to some long term effects. While most common in elderly people, it can still effect you if you are young.

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