Degenerative macular eye disease is a medical condition that typically affects people as they age. The disease is one of the leading causes of blindness in North America and affects between 10 per cent and 30 per cent of the population between the ages of 65 and 85. Macular degeneration is when the centre field of vision deteriorates to a point where patients will be unable to recognize faces, read, write, use a computer or perform other visual tasks. While there is currently no cure for macular degenerative eye disease, early detection can help limit the speed in which the disease advances and in some cases, through proactive response, can reverse the damage.

There are two forms of this degenerative eye disease, including dry macular degeneration and wet macular degeneration.

Dry macular degeneration accounts for about 90 per cent of cases of the disease. It is considerably less severe than the wet form of the disease and is typically found at a stage that can be controlled, slowed and in some cases reversed. Causes of dry macular degeneration include the thinning of the macular tissue, the depositing of pigment in the macula known as drusen, or a combination of the two. This form can often be treated with supplements containing high levels of lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin.

Cases of wet macular degeneration are more severe, often progressing quickly and resulting in the patient suffering serious vision lost. Wet macular degeneration occurs when extremely fragile blood vessels grow beneath the retina and leak fluid and blood. When this fluid and blood is leaked, it immediately scars the retina, causing permanent damage.

There is currently no cure for either form of macular degeneration, but fortunately, sufferers of the disease do not experience any physical pain.

Early diagnosis of macular degeneration is extremely important, because all cases of the wet form of the disease start with the more manageable dry form. The signs and symptoms of macular degeneration include:
  • Drusen;
  • A reduction or loss in contrast sensitivity;
  • Alterations to the pigment;
  • Slow recovery of visual function after being exposed to bright lights such as camera flashes;
  • Haemorrhages in the eye, intraregional fluid or hard exudates;
  • Distorted vision, which can be detected using the Amsler Grid Test;
  •  Eye atrophy;
  • Central scotomas, which are shadows or missing areas in the central area of a person's vision;
  • Visual acuity and accuracy decreasing drastically over the course of several eye examinations. For example, going from 20/20 vision all the way down to 20/80 vision;
  • Blurry vision, often being one of the first symptoms that a person may notice if they are developing a kind of degenerative eye disease. In macular degeneration, it can progress rapidly; and
  • In the case of wet macular degeneration, preferential hyperacuity perimetry changes can occur.


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Degenerative eye disorders like Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of major vision loss in people over the age of 60. Narrowed into two categories - dry and wet, neither currently is curable.
Eye degeneration disease typically affects older people starting at about age 50 and the risk increases year over year. The most common degenerative eye disease is macular degeneration.
Dry Macular Degeneration symptoms should be taken seriously. Treatment is available, but only at one stage of the disease.
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