macular degeneration

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macular degeneration,

eye disorder causing loss of central vision. The affected area, the macula, lies at the back of the retina and is the part that produces the sharpest vision. The most serious visual impairment occurs when abnormal blood vessels form and leak serous fluid or bleed into the tissue of the macula, ultimately producing scar tissue. Peripheral (side) vision is unaffected. Onset may be acute with hemorrhage but usually is gradually progressive. Although some vision is retained, the ability to read, recognize faces, and drive a motor vehicle is greatly reduced. The condition is painless.

Macular degeneration is a major cause of vision impairment among elderly people. Although its underlying cause is unknown, it sometimes appears to run in families. Serious macular degeneraton, if diagnosed early, may have its progress stemmed by laser or photodynamic (cold laser and drug) treatment that closes leaking vessels. Antiangiogenic drugs, which inhibit the formation of new blood vessels, can be injected into the eye to stop degeneration and in some cases even improve vision. Sudden change in vision in someone over age 50 thus requires immediate medical attention.


See H. Grunwald, Twilight: Losing Sight, Gaining Insight (1999).

References in periodicals archive ?
Patients diagnosed with drusiform dry ARMD on fundus examination were screened for inclusion criteria.
Seddon et al reported an association between dietary intake of L and Z around 6 mg per day and a decreased risk of ARMD (Seddon, Ajani, Sperduto, Hiller, Blair, Burton, et al, 1994).
In the study, participants taking high-dose supplements of these nutrients (five to 13 times the Recommended Dietary Allowances) reduced their risk of developing advanced ARMD by 25%.
The Beaver Dam Eye Study and Rotterdam Study looked at families with ARMD and found an odds ratio as high as 10:1 for siblings (7,8) and 6:1 for the offspring of ARMD patients.
The lower prevalence of ARMD may be due to darker skin pigmentation, higher intake of antioxidants found in the tropical fruits, and genetic factors.
Likewise, persons who were diagnosed with ARMD were included in the ARMD sample.
Because each case of ARMD is distinct, diagnosing with certainty which form a patient has is crucial to treatment.
OUTCOMES MEASURED Two primary outcomes were defined for study eyes in the ARMD trial: (1) progression to advanced ARMD and (2) at least a 15-letter decrease in visual acuity score.
Fortunately, peripheral vision is spared, so ARMD doesn't lead to complete blindness.
Vision loss from ARMD appears to be triggered, at least in part, by cumulative oxidative damage to the eyes, a reason why ARMD occurs mostly in older people.
Researchers examined the effect of antioxidant vitamins A, C and E, carotenoids, and fruits and vegetables on the development of early ARMD or a more severe form of the illness, which frequently involves vision loss, in more than 77,000 middle-aged and older women and nearly 41,000 men.