The macula is small, but mighty.
With a diameter less than a quarter of an inch, it is the part of the retina responsible for the sharp, central vision that allows us to read and see colors. It’s the kind of thing that goes unnoticed until it’s gone.
“Some people don’t realize they are only seeing out of one eye,” said Tupelo retina specialist Dr. Heather Hancock.
Age-related macular degeneration affects 11 million Americans. It can leave holes in the central vision, making it difficult to read and see faces. Peripheral vision remains intact even at the most severe stages.
It has a strong genetic component.
Macular degeneration is still considered incurable, but advances in treatment are allowing physicians to slow the progression of the disease, especially with the most devastating form of macular degeneration, Hancock said.
Age-related macular degeneration comes in two forms. Dry macular degeneration typically progresses very slowly. It develops because the macula becomes thinner and worn.
There is no direct therapy for dry macular degeneration. Physicians typically recommend a diet rich in antioxidants and supplements that support eye health, along with regular follow up to watch for changes, Hancock said.
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