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Home » What's New » Macular Degeneration and Low Vision

Macular Degeneration and Low Vision

senior man in thought2Macular degeneration (or age-related macular degeneration, abbreviated AMD) is one of the leading causes of vision loss in America. The disease affects the retina, the layer of tissue at the back of the eye that re. This layer has photo-receptors that are stimulated by light and send signals to your brain, thereby generating vision. Specifically, AMD affects the central part of the retina called the macula and this is the portion of your eye that is used in primary visual activities that require the finest acuities, such as reading and driving. Macular degeneration occurs in either a dry (atrophic)or wet (exudative) form. In either case, the disease only affects the central vision and rarely causes total vision loss.

The majority of patients have the dry or atrophic type of macular degeneration. In this form of the disease, the slow deterioration of there tina is often coincidental with the formation of small yellow deposits,known as drusen, in the macular region. This accumulation of drusen leads to a thinning of the macular tissues, causing distortions in vision that initially appear as wavy. The eventual amount of central vision loss is directly related to the location or the amount of retinal thinning caused by the drusen.

The exudative, or wet form of the disease, is far less common (about 20%of AMD cases), but it is more aggressive and threatening to one's vision. In the wet type of macular degeneration, abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina and macula through a process called neo-vascularization. These new blood vessels may bleed and leak fluid, thereby causing the macula to bulge or lift up, distorting or destroying central vision. In these circumstances, vision loss may be rapid and severe.

Although much research is being done on finding treatments for macular degeneration, no current treatment exists for the more common dry form,and the treatment for the wet form sometimes does not meet patient’s expectations. As macular degeneration advances the severity of the vision loss increases often requiring specialized low vision aids for macular degeneration. These devices are designed with the purpose to combine research, technology, and daily application for providing visual assistance to individuals living with macular degeneration. For many AMD patients, the use of low vision aids or vision rehabilitation is of great help and allows them to enhance their quality of life and remain independent.

Understanding the effects that AMD has on vision helps determine what features are preferred when finding the optimal low vision aids for macular degeneration.

Macular degeneration directly affects the light sensitive tissue in the eye, to which additional lighting will aid in tasks like reading and writing. Simple adjustments can be made in the home by increasing the presence of natural light, or by adding lamps that mimic natural lighting. Lighting selections are an ideal feature for vision aids for macular degeneration allowing adjustable increased lighting and contrast viewing modes,supporting the damaged retina.

Sharp, fine detail vision is also compromised as a result of macular degeneration. Visual aids that allow, black and white viewing modes, color,and other contrast/ sharp image focused features provide additional control and low vision support.

Some electronic low vision aids for macular degeneration allow screen-viewing modes that support the use of peripheral vision. The loss of central vision or missing spots in vision can be supported through the eccentric viewing options. For example, if you are using a handheld magnifier and viewing a photograph, you can the magnifier to the sight line of your peripheral vision. This is also helpful with menus, transportation schedules,and more. Tailoring to the vision strengths, our low vision aids for macular degeneration will increase supporting your remaining vision areas.