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Understanding Macular Degeneration

If you have blurry vision and keep putting off your visit to the eye doctor, consider this your friendly nudge to get a check-up.

Dr. Michael Ragen, ophthalmologist at Ventura Eye Institute in Camarillo, California, encourages everyone to start a preventive eye health plan to avoid or slow down damaging conditions like macular degeneration, which we tell you more about here. 

What is macular degeneration?

Macular degeneration is a typically age-related eye condition — when it is, it’s called age-related macular degeneration, or AMD — that can cause blindness. In fact, AMD is one of the leading causes of declining eyesight in adults over the age of 50. 

Macular degeneration causes you to lose your eyesight because a particular part of your retina called the macula begins to deteriorate. 

Your retina is a thin layer of tissue in your eye that receives focused light from your eye lens, and the macula sits near the center of the retina. Your macula helps you see fine details and helps you make out small visuals, such as text on a piece of paper. 

As macular degeneration develops, you start to lose the ability to see details in your central vision, but often, peripheral vision remains intact. 

Types of macular degeneration

There are two types of macular degeneration — wet and dry. 

These seem like funny classifications to give an eye disease, but they make sense: Wet macular degeneration occurs when new blood vessels form beneath your retina, where they might leak, while dry macular degeneration doesn’t involve the formation of new blood vessels. 

Dry macular degeneration occurs when your macula becomes thinner with age, and clumps of protein called “drusen” form beneath your retina. 

Dry macular degeneration is far more common than wet macular degeneration, but wet macular degeneration is far more dangerous. Many people don’t know that they have wet macular degeneration until they have very unfocused, blurry vision. This is just one reason why it’s important to see your ophthalmologist regularly. 

Signs of macular degeneration

The hallmark of macular degeneration (either type) is blurry vision. Dry macular degeneration tends to develop more slowly than wet macular degeneration, but both types may progress unnoticeably slowly, until your central vision is very poor.

Look out for symptoms such as: 

Macular degeneration doesn’t affect your peripheral vision, so it rarely causes total blindness. However, central vision is important to everyday tasks such as driving, recognizing faces, reading, and using a phone. 

Because macular degeneration is an incurable eye disease, it all comes down to prevention. Regular visits to your ophthalmologist allow your provider to keep tabs on your eye health and make appropriate recommendations, such as taking eye health vitamins. 

For all of your eye health needs, visit Ventura Eye Institute. Call our Camarillo, California, office at 805-250-9723 or book your appointment online. You can also send a message to Dr. Ragen, Dr. Kyle Huynh, and the team here on our website.

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