8 Early Warning Signs of Macular Degeneration

Home Over 55 Staff Writer 2016-05-09

Macular degeneration (MD) is one of the leading causes for vision impairment in aged people. It is a disease which causes deterioration of central vision by damaging the retina of the eye.

2 Types of Macular Degeneration

There are two types of macular degeneration – dry macular degeneration and wet macular degeneration. According to the American Macular Degeneration Foundation, approximately 85% - 90% of people are diagnosed with dry macular degeneration, which does not involve leakage. Wet macular degeneration is an advanced form of the disease and occurs in the latter stages.

Early Warning Signs of Macular Degeneration

There are a lot of warning signs that are associated with macular degeneration, but many people choose to ignore them. One cannot emphasise enough on the importance of acknowledging these signs in the very beginning. With early treatments, there is a high chance of preventing the advanced consequences. If care is taken from the very beginning, good vision cannot only be preserved but also improved.

The Beginning Stages of Macular Degeneration

Earliest stages of macular degeneration show no symptoms. Related symptoms are also not distinguished and could be mistaken with other diseases. However, if these 5 symptoms occur in combination, or even individually, care must be sought immediately.

  • Decreased vision
  • Blurry eyesight
  • Small blank spots develop in the eyesight
  • Vision starts getting distorted
  • Images also become blotchy with dark spots

Often, people do not notice that their eyesight is becoming weak. If you require brighter lights for carrying out your routine activities or reading, and if the objects do not appear as colourful as they used to be, then your vision is definitely changing.

Development of Early Symptoms

Symptoms of macular degeneration develop over a period of time. For some people, it can even take years for the disease to show up properly. It begins with blurring eyesight, with advanced symptoms of vision distortion and blotchiness occurring later. If these symptoms progress very rapidly, then there is a high risk that the macular degeneration has gone from dry stage to wet stage. Image of normal eye and eye with macular degeneration

Symptoms of Wet Macular Degeneration

For some people, dry macular degeneration goes completely unnoticed until it transforms into wet macular degeneration. In these cases, the symptoms that are usually experienced include:

  • Straight lines appear wavy and distorted
  • Vision becomes blotchy with either white or black spots
  • Vision becomes smudged and smeared

Symptoms of wet macular degeneration are subtle at first, but then the condition goes from bad to worse in a short span of time. Eventually the patient is left with nothing more than centrally impaired vision, visual hallucinations and complete loss of eyesight.

Self-Test Yourself for Symptoms

The best way to check if you have macular degeneration or not is by giving yourself vision-exams. Print a grid out for yourself, for example a box with 24 squares. Mark the centre of the square with a black dot. Close one of your eye and use the other eye to view the grid at a distance of 14 inches. If you notice any of the aforementioned symptoms, immediately inform your ophthalmologist.

Difference between Macular Degeneration and Glaucoma

Both diseases are caused in the older aged people and affect the retina of the eye. Both diseases can lead to loss of eyesight, and both diseases are incurable. The only difference that sets them apart is that macular degeneration causes a loss in the central vision, while glaucoma causes a loss in the peripheral or side vision. The pattern of development for both diseases is also different; glaucoma appears in retina due to difference in intraocular pressure changes, while macular degeneration occurs due to changes in retinal blood vessels.

If both diseases were to occur in a single patient, the outcome would be drastic. While with macular degeneration a patient would lose his central vision, he would still retain his peripheral vision, and vice versa with glaucoma. With both diseases, a patient would lose his vision altogether.

Take Care of Early Signs and Symptoms Early

Eyesight is one of the greatest gifts of nature bestowed upon mankind. It is extremely important for us to cherish this gift by taking care of it and treating every symptom that comes along the way as soon as possible. Being aware of these symptoms can help preserve vision in the long run.

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