What you need to know about Macular Degeneration vs. Macular Dystrophy

What you need to know about Macular Degeneration vs. Macular Dystrophy

What you need to know

Macular Degeneration

Macular Degeneration causes more cases of severe vision loss than cataracts and glaucoma combined. It is incurable and the damage done before treatment or surgery cannot be reversed. It happens when the macula, the central portion of the retina, deteriorates. That deterioration means that images aren't processed correctly. People can have wavy or blurred vision. Eventually, central vision can be completely lost and the patient may even lose the ability to see the faces of loved ones.

The most common type is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD may be caused by both genetics and environmental factors. Scientists are working on learning for certain, but they're restrained by little funding for new studies. They do know that risk for AMD increases with age because it occurs mostly in those 55 and older.

People with a family history have a higher risk of developing AMD than those who lack that history. Caucasians are more likely to develop it than Black people or Hispanics/Latinos.  Smoking doubles the risk! You can slow the progression of vision loss by making changes in diet, exercise, quitting or not starting smoking, and protecting the eyes from ultraviolet light with a great pair of UV protected sunglasses.

One form of macular degeneration, Stargardt’s disease, is found in younger people. It's caused by a recessive gene. That means that the parents probably don’t have the disease and might not be aware that they’re carriers.

Macular Dystrophy

Macular dystrophy, on the other hand, is rare. It leads to cell damage in the macula, which in turn leads to vision loss, and it has no cure. Those are the only similarities. The cause may often be a substance called lipofuscin building up in the cells of the macula. The lipofuscin blocks central vision, making it blurry or warped.

There are quite a few types of macular dystrophy but a few more common ones. Best Disease presents in children while Vitelliform Macular Dystrophy presents in adults, but the dystrophies are thought to be within the same family. Best Disease is definitely inherited (related to a gene called BEST1). If a parent has Best Disease, the chance of their child developing it is high. It develops between the ages of 3 and 15, but may not be diagnosed until the start of vision loss later in life.

Vitelliform Macular Dystrophy may or may not be genetic. Scientists have isolated the gene (PRPH2), but less than a quarter of people who develop the disease have the mutated gene. They don’t know what causes the majority of cases. Part of the problem is that each case of both diseases is unique to the person who has it.


Macular degeneration and macular dystrophy both attack the macular portion of the retina, destroy central vision, and neither can be cured. Once they do damage, it cannot be reversed, but it can sometimes be treated. More research is needed before both are understood fully. Do you or someone you know suffer from macular dystrophy? Let us know!

One Love,

Dr. Jenna Zigler, Eye Love

Dr. Jenna Zigler

Other Macular Degeneration articles by Dr. Zigler: Managing Macular Degeneration: Diet and LifestyleHow Fast Does Macular Degeneration Progress?Will I Go Blind From Macular Degeneration?

We would love for you to join our Macular Degeneration Support Community on Facebook.



Related Posts


Pat Follmer on October 09 2018 at 05:08PM

Was told I have Best Dystrophy. Still have vision. Am very active,74 yr old female(white)

Ashley - operations manager at eye love on January 25 2018 at 10:56AM

Hey K! I would recommend you joing our Macular Degeneration Support Community on FaceBook. https://www.facebook.com/groups/amdcommunity/

One Love,

K on January 24 2018 at 10:17PM

Yes. My husband suffers this màcular degeneration for a few years now. Can you give me more information on this.

Leave a comment

Comments have to be approved before showing up


Sold Out