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Macular Degeneration

The retina is the nerve fiber layer in the back of the eye where images form, much like the film in a camera. The macula is a very small area in the center of the retina. The macula controls vision in our central field of vision — the area you would see if you looked through a drinking straw. If the macula is damaged, central vision is reduced or even lost, but peripheral, or side, vision remains unaffected.

What is macular degeneration?

Macular degeneration is a slowly progressive disease that causes a reduction in central vision. In the early stages of the disease, the effect on vision may be minimal or unnoticeable. As the disease progresses, fine detail becomes more difficult to see, especially when reading small print. Vision may also appear distorted or parts of an object may appear to be missing. There is no pain associated with macular degeneration.

There are two forms of macular degeneration: dry and wet. In the dry form, small deposits of material, called drusen, develop in the macula, causing mild to moderate decrease in vision. In the wet form, abnormal blood vessels under the macula leak fluid. This can result in severe vision loss.

No one is completely sure what causes macular degeneration. Heredity, the environment, age (particularly age 50 and older) and general health may all be factors. Recent studies indicate that exposure to ultraviolet radiation as well as deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals may also affect macular degeneration. Smoking has been linked to the more severe, or wet, form of macular degeneration.

Treating macular degeneration

At this time, there is no cure for macular degeneration, but the board-certified ophthalmologists at St. Paul Eye Clinic offer state-of-the-art strategies to slow the progression of the disease. Some patients with wet macular degeneration may benefit from high antioxidant vitamin therapy while others may require laser or injection therapy.

St. Paul Eye Clinic also offers nonsurgical solutions to help patients with macular degeneration maintain visual function. These include special glasses as well as special tints and lens coatings that can increase contrast and improve clarity of vision. After assessing your lifestyle needs and vision status, we will guide you through a variety of low-vision solutions that can help improve your vision and your quality of life.

St. Paul Eye Clinic

Reduce Your Risk of Vision Loss

Early detection of macular degeneration through routine eye exams is the first step in lowering the risk of vision loss. Call today or request an appointment online at the St. Paul Eye Clinic nearest you. We have 7 locations throughout St. Paul, Minnesota and 2 in northwest Wisconsin.