Macular Degeneration

Macular Degeneration can only be diagnosed by examining the retina.

It can cause many different symptoms including distorted vision, dark or empty patches in central vision, difficulty reading, decreased night vision, sensitivity to glare and poor colour sensitivity.  Unfortunately the early signs of macular degeneration may go unnoticed.

Macular Degeneration is either dry (non-neovascular) or wet (neovascular). Click here to learn more. Neovascular refers to the growth of new blood vessels in an area, such as the macula, where they are not supposed to be. The wet form is less common, but leads to more serious vision loss.

Both wet and dry Macular Degeneration begin in a layer of cells underneath the retina, called the Retinal Pigment Epithelium (RPE), which is responsible for transporting oxygen and essential nutrients to the retina, and moving waste products from the retina to the choroidal blood vessels.

Macular Degeneration occurs when waste products from the retina build up underneath the RPE as deposits known as drusen.

In the early stages of Macular Degeneration, when drusen first appear, you may not realize anything is wrong and you may still have normal vision. This is the best time to detect Macular Degeneration.

As Macular Degeneration progresses, vision loss occurs as RPE cells die, or as the RPE fails to prevent new blood vessels from the choroid growing into the retina. This neovascularization is the body’s misguided attempt to create a new network of blood vessels to supply oxygen and nutrients to the retina. Instead, the process creates scarring, leading sometimes to severe central vision loss.