Macular Degeneration — leading cause of vision loss

Why and How Macular Degeneration Affects Vision

Why and How Macular Degeneration Affects Vision 0

Why and How Macular Degeneration Affects Vision

Why and How Macular Degeneration Affects Vision

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) affects vision because the macula is part of the retina of the eye. The macula is located behind the lens on the back of the eyeball and helps images get to the optic nerve so they can be interpreted by the brain. The macula has the specific purpose of focusing fine details and enables people to read, drive, and see things like facial expressions.

So when the macula starts to break down and become dysfunctional, the central field of vision also suffers, though it leaves peripheral vision intact. This often causes confusion for those who are close to the person with macular degeneration because their eyes still look normal from the outside, so people don’t know why so much is missed by the one with AMD. At its worst form, what a person with AMD sees is almost like those scratcher cards that haven’t been scratched off yet — a blank circle covering the center area of where they look. Before that, the central vision may be distorted or partially “scratched.”

People with AMD are not blind, but they don’t have a full range of vision either. They are somewhere in between – as the former National Association for Visually Handicapped’s founding director, Dr. Lorraine Marchi, coined the phrase for AMD as being “hard of seeing.” A loved-one with AMD may not see the eyes of the person they are looking at, but they can usually see the general shape of the face. Since they know where the eyes are generally located, they can look at the eyes without seeing them.

In America, AMD — usually in the form of age-related macular degeneration— is the leading cause of vision loss for those who are over the age of 60. Studies show that exposure to UV rays, obesity, and smoking may increase the risk of AMD, and it seems to be more prevalent in Caucasians than in African-Americans. It has hereditary links and is also more common among women than men. Though there are two forms of AMD (wet and dry), 90% of those suffering from AMD have the dry, less severe form.

No cure has been found yet for AMD. With early detection, there are treatments that slow the progress of the disease, extending full vision longer. Have you been diagnosed with macular degeneration?

One Love,

Dr. Travis Zigler, Eye Love

Dr. Travis Zigler


Will I Go Blind From Macular Degeneration­?

Will I Go Blind From Macular Degeneration­? 1

Will I Go Blind From Macular Degeneration

Does everyone with Macular Degeneration eventually go blind?

A person who has been diagnosed with macular degeneration is naturally concerned about permanently losing their sight since the eye disease is the number one cause of severe blindness.

What is Macular Degeneration?

At the front of an eye there’s a lens and an opening, which both adjust to bring objects in focus for the retina at the back of the eye. The retina is a delicate tissue that’s very sensitive to light, similar to the film in a camera. The macula is found in the middle of the retina where the incoming light is focused. It is responsible for all central vision, including color.

Macular degeneration occurs when the cells of the macula become damaged, then stop working properly. It is generally an age-related condition. However, people who are younger, even children, can develop a form of macular degeneration known as macular dystrophy.

What  are the symptoms?

There are two forms of macular degeneration, wet and dry. Their causes are mostly unknown. The macula starts to deteriorate and central vision slowly breaks down. It often occurs in just one eye initially but eventually spreads to both eyes. In the earlier stages, central vision may become blurred or distorted.

The dry form develops over a period of several months. Patients may become very sensitive to light and/or actually see lights that are not actually there. As the disease gets worse, a dark, blurry spot may appear in the middle of the vision. This spot appears because cells in the macula have stopped working. Over time, the blurred spot may get larger and darker, reducing more of the central vision. Wet macular degeneration can develop at any time and is often thought of as the more severe form of AMD.

What’s the risk of blindness?

The wet form of macular degeneration is the more severe of the two. It occurs as new blood vessels behind the retina start to grow toward the macula. According to, the wet form affects about 10% of people with macular degeneration. The risk of vision loss is significant, but it’s not absolute and can be prevented with prompt and proper treatment. No one will ever go completely blind from macular degeneration.


Although most cases of wet macular degeneration are due to genetics, there are a number of lifestyle and dietary factors that can affect the risk of developing the dry form of the eye disease. A study conducted by the National Eye Institute found that higher levels of antioxidants, like pycnogenol or grape seed extract, taken daily in combination with zinc, can reduce the risk of advanced macular degeneration by 25%.

Other studies have noted beneficial changes to a diet rich in dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and kale. Ultraviolet light also can damage the retina and increase the risk of developing macular degeneration. Therefore, it is extremely important to protect eyes when outdoors with a great pair of UV protected sunglasses.

As always, knowledge is power so getting the latest information about macular degeneration is extremely important. Any tips you’ve heard that we may have missed? Let us know below!

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.


Macular Degeneration: Prevention Principles You Need To Know

Macular Degeneration: Prevention Principles You Need To Know 0

Macular Degeneration: Prevention Principles You Need To Know

Macular Degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in people over the age of 60. It occurs when the small central portion of the retina, known as the macula, deteriorates. The retina is the light-sensing nerve tissue at the back of the eye.

There are two types of macular degeneration: dry and wet. Most of the time, Macular Degeneration begins as the dry type, but in 10-20% of cases it progresses to the wet type. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is almost always bilateral (occurs in both eyes), but does not necessarily progress at the same rate in both eyes. Therefore, it is possible to experience the wet type in one eye and the dry type in the other eye.

Dry Macular Degeneration

Dry AMD is known as the atrophic type, affecting approximately 80-90% of individuals with the disease. Its exact cause is unknown and it tends to progress more slowly than the wet type, but there is not an approved treatment or cure. In dry age-related macular degeneration, small white or yellowish deposits, called drusen, form on the retina beneath the macula, causing it to deteriorate over time.

Wet Macular Degeneration

The wet type of AMD, known as neovascular, affects approximately 10-15% of people with age-related macular degeneration, but it accounts for approximately 90% of all cases of severe vision loss from the disease. Therefore, the wet type of macular degeneration is considered the worse diagnosis of the two. But it’s important to remember that the dry type of AMD often progresses to the wet type.

In wet age-related macular degeneration, abnormal blood vessels form under the retina and begin to grow toward the macula. These new blood vessels are abnormal, so they tend to break and bleed, and the leaks of blood damage the macula by causing the macula to pull away from its base. This tends to cause a rapid and severe loss of central vision ability.


The FDA recently approved the Implantable Miniature Telescope (IMT) for End-Stage Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Read more about it here. This telescope does not treat the disease, but rather gives the patient some form of sight after the disease has progressed to vision loss. At this time, vitamin supplementation for dry AMD and anti-angiogenic injections for wet AMD are the best known treatments. Many clinical trials are underway to discover a more effective drug or surgical treatment for macular degeneration but at this time, it seems that prevention is the best defense against the disease.

Macular Degeneration: Prevention Principles You Need To Know


Here’s a list of 7 suggestions that may help prevent the development of Macular Degeneration. This list is not intended to be exhaustive. There are many studies currently exploring natural ways of preventing and treating AMD.

  1. Quit smoking!
  2. Eat plenty of dark, leafy green vegetables, such as raw spinach.
  3. Eat fish or take a fish oil supplement.
  4. Exercise regularly, maintaining a healthy weight.
  5. Eat fruit and nuts daily.
  6. Reduce intake of refined carbohydrates.
  7. Control blood pressure and cholesterol.

If you are currently suffering from Macular Degeneration, or know someone who is, take solace in the fact that the medical community is committed to finding an effective cure for this disease. If you are concerned about developing AMD, there are many actions for prevention that can be utilized as well. Comment below if you or someone you love suffer from this awful disease. What have you found to treat it or cope with the vision loss?

One 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.




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