Macula or yellow spot - this is the place of the sharpest sight on the retina of the eye. The progressive decline of the sensory cells lying there is the main cause of blindness and severe visual impairments in the industrialized countries. Since the macular degeneration predominantly occurs in over 65-year-olds, the doctors also speak of age-related or senile macular degeneration, short AMD. The juvenile form, however, is very rare, is inherited and also referred to as Stargardt syndrome.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
Age-related macular degeneration is one of the most common causes of visual acuity loss in old age - around 20 percent of 65- to 74-year-olds suffer from it, compared to 35 percent of those aged 75-85. In Germany alone, more than one million people suffer from impaired vision. The disease usually begins after the age of 50 and leads to blindness in the late stages. AMD is a retinal disease in which central vision is progressively dwindling. Above all, the macula, the point on the retina that can be seen most severely, is damaged. There, the photosensitive cells (photoreceptors) are densest packed. The more of these photoreceptors die, the worse the affected person sees. Everyday tasks such as reading or driving are becoming increasingly difficult.
First signs of macular degeneration
- if letters blur or disappear as you read,
- when straight lines suddenly appear bent (distorted, wavy) - especially pronounced in grid shapes like tile patterns,
- when a blurred spot appears in the center of the field of view while the vision is maintained in the outer areas.
Usually, the disease process begins in only one eye. The probability is high, however, that at a later stage, the second eye is affected. There are two forms of AMD:
- Dry macular degeneration: At around 85 percent, dry AMD is the much more common form. It probably originates from the deposition of cell debris and metabolic products between the sensory cells, which damage them. It usually progresses slowly over months to years or remains stable over a longer period; Vision loss is usually limited. But it can also turn into a wet AMD.
- Moist macular degeneration: Dangerous for the eyesight is the wet macular degeneration, because it runs much faster. In wet AMD circulatory disorders initially lead to the formation of new, inferior vessels. These release fluid in the retina, the photoreceptors die faster, the central vision is often completely lost - and within a few months.
Researchers have found that the older and older their eyes are exposed to sunlight, the more likely older people are to develop age-related macular degeneration. Besides solar radiation, atherosclerosis, smoking and a low serum beta-carotene concentration are associated with an increased AMD risk. Therefore: protect your eyes from direct sunlight with good sunglasses!