Macular degeneration: Causes, symptoms and treatment

Macular degeneration (also known as age-related macular degeneration) is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss in the elderly. The disease is completely asymptomatic in the early stages.

When a patient's vision is significantly affected, new symptoms begin to become apparent. The delay in diagnosis greatly affects the effectiveness of treatment.

Therefore, it is very important to know the situations where the disease is most likely to happen and to visit health facilities regularly. Together we will learn what you need to know through the article: "Macular degeneration: causes, symptoms and treatment"


1. What is a Gold Point?

The macula is a part of the retina, located at the back of the eye . This is where a lot of light-sensitive cells are concentrated. They are responsible for receiving and transmitting the received signals to the nervous system to reproduce the images we see.

The macula is mainly responsible for central vision. Therefore, when the disease will reduce the ability to see in this area.

Macular degeneration: Causes, symptoms and treatment

Macular in normal eyes and eyes with macular degeneration ( Source: nhathuoclongchau)

2. What is macular degeneration?

Macular degeneration is the name given to a group of diseases of the retina. They occur when light-sensitive cells are damaged and die, affecting vision.

The disease never leads to complete blindness but impairs the ability to perform tasks that require high detail such as reading, watching TV, driving, etc.

Besides macular degeneration, our eyes also face diseases such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, etc. Some articles will help you get useful information:

>>> Farsightedness: What you need to know

>>> Causes, symptoms and prevention of myopia

3. What is the cause of macular degeneration?

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

  • Dry form: accounts for about 80% of cases, occurs when the macula thins with age. The patient will gradually lose vision.
  • Wet form: rarer but more severe . This form occurs when blood vessels grow abnormally below the retina. These blood vessels leak blood and fluid creating blind spots in the center, distorting the visible image. Eventually, scars form in the macula. As a result, the patient will lose their vision permanently.

4. Who is more likely to get macular degeneration?

The following situations may increase your risk of developing macular degeneration:

  • Over 50 years old.
  • Obesity, sedentary
  • Increased blood cholesterol.
  • Diets high in saturated fats (such as meat, butter, cheese, etc.)
  • Smoke.
  • Hypertension.
  • Having a relative with macular degeneration.

5. What are the symptoms of macular degeneration?

In its early stages, macular degeneration may cause no symptoms. It can sometimes be discovered incidentally during routine eye exams.

In advanced disease or affecting both eyes, patients may complain of the following conditions:

  • Blurred area in the center, getting bigger and darker over time (usually appearing first)
  • The images become no longer sharp, details are difficult to distinguish.
  • Impairment/change in color perception.

You need to go to the eye clinic or hospital as soon as possible to get a timely diagnosis if you are in any of the above situations.

Macular degeneration: Causes, symptoms and treatment

Blurry in the center, lack of sharpness, and changes in color are symptoms of macular degeneration (Source: allaboutvision)

6. What is the diagnostic process like?

After the eye drops with a special solution, the doctor will use a medical lens to look at the retina and evaluate for changes in blood vessels and nerves. 

If in doubt, your doctor may ask you to perform a test by looking at the Amsler grid with each eye. If you see some lines that are distorted, distorted or blurred, and with a dark area in the center, then you probably have the disease.

In case of abnormal findings, some retinal imaging measures may be ordered to investigate in more detail.

Macular degeneration: Causes, symptoms and treatment

Amsler grid test.
Left figure: normal vision. Right image: visual impairment due to macular degeneration.
(Source: dr.sharangwartikar)

7. Can macular degeneration be cured?

There is currently no way to completely cure it . However, treatment can prevent vision loss and slow the progression of the disease significantly. There are many measures that have been put into practice around the world:

  • Medications: These are aimed at stopping the growth of new blood vessels and reducing the leakage of fluid inside the eye that causes wet macular degeneration. This is really a revolution in treatment, many patients have really felt their vision improved. To be effective, it is necessary to periodically repeat as directed by the doctor.
  • Laser therapy: Lasers can be used to destroy abnormally growing blood vessels.
  • Photodynamic therapy: This method combines both drugs and lasers. First, your doctor will inject a special drug into your body. They are then absorbed by the abnormal blood vessels in the eye. Finally, a laser will be used to activate this drug, which destroys the abnormal blood vessels

Macular degeneration is a common disease in the elderly. They are the leading cause of visual impairment in this subject. The risk of disease is especially high in some special cases such as obesity, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, etc.

The early stages usually show very few symptoms. Sometimes it can be detected during routine examination without any symptoms. Therefore, regular attention to eye health is extremely important.

There is currently no cure for vision loss. However, it is possible to prevent and significantly slow down the progression of the disease by measures such as using drugs, using lasers and a combination of the two, etc.

Please share with your loved ones to protect the health of your eyes together!

Doctor Nguyen Ho Thanh An