ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Macular Degeneration in Older Adults

Updated on October 18, 2012

Age-related macular degeneration is a leading cause of vision problems in older adults. Because it affects the area of the retina responsible for clear central vision it can have a negative impact on quality of life, causing difficulties with activities such as reading or driving.


The Retina and Macula

The retina is a layer of tissue that lines the interior back wall of the eye. Photoreceptors in the retina sense the presence of light, and convert that information into electrical impulses that travel along the optic nerve to the brain. The brain then translates those impulses into visual images.

The macula is the small, sensitive part of the retina which is responsible for crisp, clear, colorful central vision. Therefore, the degeneration of the macula that can occur in older adults leads to an impairment in that central field of vision.


Anatomy of the Eye
Anatomy of the Eye | Source

Types of Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration can be classified as either “dry” or “wet.” Dry macular degeneration is far more common, and can progress slowly over a period of years. The appearance of “drusen,“ or yellow deposits under the lining of the retina, can be observed during an eye examination by an ophthalmologist. Macular degeneration can occur in one or both eyes, and the symptoms may not be noticeable at first. As the macula deteriorates, however, a gradual blurry spot in the central field of vision develops.

The more serious--and less common--form of macular degeneration is the “wet” form. In this type, blood vessels begin to grow in the region of the macula. These new blood vessels begin to leak blood and fluid, causing the macula to swell. Wet macular degeneration can progress more rapidly than dry, and can be more serious. However, the dry form of macular degeneration can progress and lead to the wet form, leading to increased vision loss.


Normal Vision

Source

As seen with macular degeneration

Source

Symptoms of Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is characterized by a painless loss of vision. Adults in the early stages may not notice changes in vision, especially if the macular degeneration is present in only one eye. Frequently, the first symptom may be that the older adult notices blurry words while reading. Other symptoms include:

  • A shadowy or dark spot in the central field of vision
  • Difficulty seeing faces clearly
  • Increased difficulty in adjusting to changes in lighting when entering a dark room
  • A general haziness or mistiness in overall vision
  • Decreased intensity of colors
  • The need for brighter lighting when reading or performing close-up tasks
  • The perception that straight lines are wavy, such as when viewing a grid
  • A blind spot in the central field of vision


Amsler Grid

Amsler grid as it might appear to a person with macular degeneration
Amsler grid as it might appear to a person with macular degeneration | Source

Diagnosis and Treatment

Macular degeneration is usually diagnosed through an ophthalmology exam using eye drops to dilate the pupils. The doctor will examine the eye for the presence of drusen and observe the appearance of blood vessels. He or she may perform an angiogram if a more detailed view of the blood vessels is needed. In this case, an IV containing dye is inserted into the arm and as the dye makes its way throughout the circulatory system it highlights blood vessels, including those in the eye.

The doctor may also perform a vision test using an Amsler grid to determine whether there is an impairment in central vision.

Although there is no cure, there is some evidence that supplements such as beta-carotene, lutein, Vitamins C and E, and zinc may help to slow the progression of dry macular degeneration. There are several treatments available for wet macular degeneration including photodynamic therapy, laser photocoagulation, and medications that can be injected into the eye. Treatment of macular degeneration is an active research area, so additional treatments and medications may become available in the near future.


Coping with Macular Degeneration

The diagnosis of macular degeneration can lead to feelings of sadness and loss, and the fear of not knowing how the disease will progress. The emotional support of friends and family can be especially important, but there are adaptations in the home can help to deal with symptoms as well:

  • A handheld magnifier can help with close-up activities such as reading or doing crossword puzzles.
  • Brighter lighting in the home can make seeing household objects easier.
  • Reading may be more comfortable if large-print books are used.
  • Clocks with large numbers and remote controls and telephones with big buttons can be helpful.
  • A large-screen TV may make watching TV more enjoyable. Adjust the seating position to take advantage of peripheral vision, or practice viewing the screen with the “blind spot” slightly above the screen.
  • Special glasses with magnifying lenses may be useful. Talk to the ophthalmologist about whether this would be helpful.

Useful Magnifier for Macular Degeneration

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Gabriela 

      3 years ago

      hey there and thank you for your info e28093 Ie28099ve certainly pekicd up anything new from right here. I did however expertise several technical issues using this site, as I experienced to reload the web site many times previous to I could get it to load properly. I had been wondering if your hosting is OK? Not that I'm complaining, but slow loading instances times will very frequently affect your placement in google and can damage your high quality score if ads and marketing with Adwords. Well Ie28099m adding this RSS to my e-mail and can look out for a lot more of your respective interesting content. Ensure that you update this again very soon..

    • Eldercare Nurse profile imageAUTHOR

      Eldercare Nurse 

      5 years ago

      Thank you so much! I am looking forward to helping people understand issues related to the aging process.

    • Christine Miranda profile image

      Christine Miranda 

      5 years ago from My office.

      Welcome to HubPages. I can already see you will be an asset to the HubPages community. Your hubs are well written, I look forward to more of your hubs. Voted up & more.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)