It is one of the leading causes of blindness in people over the
age of 60, although some patients have a genetic disposition. Macular
degeneration is damage or breakdown of the Macula. The Macula is
the small area at the back of the eye that allows us to see fine
details clearly. When the Macula does not function correctly, we
experience blurriness or darkness in the center of our vision. Macular
degeneration affects both distance and close vision. Macular degeneration
reduces the center vision; it does not affect the eye's side or
peripheral vision. Macular degeneration alone does not result in
total blindness. People continue to have useful vision and are able
to take care of themselves.
Retinal Detachment and Vitreous Hemorrhage
A retinal detachment is when the Retina separates from the back
wall of the eye and is removed from its blood supply and source
of nutrition. The Retina will degenerate and lose its ability to
function if it remains detached. A retinal detachment is a very
serious problem and should you see flashes of light, floaters or
curtains, see an ophthalmologist immediately. When a retinal tear
occurs, retinal blood vessels may also be torn. When this happens,
blood enters the Vitreous and the hemorrhage prevents the physician
from seeing the Retina. An ultrasound can be performed in order
to help find a tear in the Retina.
Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of legal blindness in
working age Americans. In diabetic retinopathy, the blood vessels
of the Retina become abnormal, which may cause problems with eyesight.
When the blood vessels develop tiny leaks, it causes fluid to seep
into the Retina, especially the Macula. When the leakage accumulates
in the Macula, it becomes wet and swollen and cannot work
properly. This form of diabetic retinopathy caused by leakage of
the retinal blood vessels is called nonproliferative retinopathy.
Sometimes the retinal blood vessels can become obstructed. The retinal
tissue, which depends on the vessels for its nutrition, will no
longer work properly. The areas of the Retina where the blood vessels
have become obstructed, then faster the growth of proliferation
of abnormal blood vessels called neovascularization. This can cause
bleeding and scar tissue that may result in severe loss of vision
or blindness. This is called proliferative diabetic retinopathy.