Macular Degeneration

In many cases, children develop a visual impairment because their parents have one. It could be as subtle as needing glasses, or it could be as severe as going completely blind. By doing tests early on, a parent could help his/her child get the visual diagnosis they need before it is too late and they are blind. Being able to see is important when learning in the classroom. It gives them a graphic sense as to how to describe things. When losing eye-sight from hereditary reasons, this is called Macular Degeneration.

"Macular degeneration is a medical condition where the light sensing cells in the macula malfunction and over time cease to work. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, it is the leading cause of central vision loss (blindness) in the United States today for those over the age of fifty. There are two basic types of the disease: Standard Macular Degeneration (MD) and Age Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD), with ARMD being the most common form of the condition. Macular degeneration that is not age related is most commonly caused by an inherited condition. These forms are sometimes called Juvenile macular degeneration (JMD). In macular degeneration the final form results in missing or blurred vision in the central, reading part of vision. The outer, peripheral part of the vision remains intact."

Age Related Macular Degeneration

"ARMD is further divided into a "dry," or nonexudative, form and a "wet," or exudative, form. Eighty five to ninety percent of cases are categorized as "dry" macular degeneration where fatty tissue, known as drusen, will slowly build up behind the retina. Ten to fifteen percent of cases involve the growth of abnormal blood vessels under the retina. These cases are called "wet" macular degeneration due to the leakage of blood and other fluid from behind the retina into the eye. Wet macular degeneration usually begins as the dry form. If allowed to continue without treatment it will completely destroy the macula. Medical, photodynamic, laser photocoagulation and laser treatment of wet macular degeneration are available."

Risk factors

There are many risk factors that come with macular degeneration or that can cause macular degeneration. These are:

Aging: The older you get, the higher risk it is of you getting it.
Race: This is found more in whites than blacks.
Smoking: Tobacco smoking can trigger macular degeneration.
Family History: "The lifetime risk of developing late-stage macular degeneration is 50% for people who have a relative with macular degeneration vs. 12% for people who do not have relatives with macular degeneration."
Hypertension: ie: high blood pressure
High Fat Intake: People that eat more fatty foods have a higher risk for macular degeneration. They say that eating nuts and cold-water fish may help patients with macular degeneration.
Exposure to HEV: High Energy Visible light can give a higher risk to age-related macular degeneration.
Cardiovascular Risk Factors: high cholesterol and obesity.
Oxidative Stress: Basically… the higher the stress, the higher the risk.

There are many signs and symptoms for Macular Degeneration:

Pigmentary alterations
Exudative changes: hemorrhages, hard exudates, subretinal/sub-RPE/intraretinal fluid
Atrophy: incipient and geographic
Visual acuity drastically decreasing (two levels or more) ex: 20/20 to 20/80.

Blurred vision, shadows or missing areas of vision (Central scotomas), distorted vision, trouble discerning colors and a slow recovery of visual function after being exposed to sunlight.

To find out how they diagnose MD or what specialists can do for it, go to:


1. ^ Khan JC, Shahid H, Thurlby DA, Bradley M, Clayton DG, Moore AT, Bird AC, Yates JR; Genetic Factors in AMD Study. "Age related macular degeneration and sun exposure, iris colour, and skin sensitivity to sunlight." Br J Ophthalmol. 2006 Jan;90(1):29-32.
2. ^ Glazer-Hockstein C, Dunaief JL. "Could blue light-blocking lenses decrease the risk of age-related macular degeneration?" Retina. 2006 Jan;26(1):1-4. PMID 16395131
3. ^ Margrain TH, Boulton M, Marshall J, Sliney DH. "Do blue light filters confer protection against age-related macular degeneration?" Prog Retin Eye Res. 2004 Sep;23(5):523-31. PMID 15302349

Added by Kaley Walker