The Effects of Macular Degeneration and What to do About it!

Posted by Luke Scriven on 1/17/2019
Age related eye diseases are the most common cause of visual impairment in America (https://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/basics/ced/index.html), and macular degeneration is an eye disease which is particularly common among our patients at The Chicago Lighthouse. As macular degeneration is age related, you are more likely to experience it as you age, and as it is a degenerative condition the disease will get progressively worsen over time. So with that in mind, how does macular degeneration effect your vision, and what can you do about it? 

Macular degeneration is typified by central vision loss, and is named because of the degeneration which occurs to the macular, the central area on the retina where your central vision loss comes from. The macular contains the highest concentration of cones, photoreceptor cells which convert the image the eye is seeing into electrical impulses to be sent down the optic nerve and ultimately to the brain. This is how vision is made! cones give you your detailed vision, and the macular is particularly responsible for giving you the clarity needed in reading, driving, seeing people's faces, writing and so on. 

When macular degeneration starts to affect your vision, you start to lose the ability to carry out these essential everyday tasks, and as such your quality of life is inhibited. As such, it's important to start to seek alternative ways to do the things you want to be able to do, but can't because of your vision loss. In the early stage of vision loss it might be that appropriate Lighting will enable you to carry out tasks such as reading, writing, sewing etc. As your vision loss progresses, you might need to use a lighted magnifier, which are available in all sorts of different powers and designs. One thing to be aware of with optical magnifiers is that as the power increases, the lens gets smaller. Therefore when you start to need higher powers, they become less practical due to the field of view being too small. Telescopes can also be used for seeing things in the distance, and are easy to carry around. 

If optical magnification is no longer working, you can start to consider electronic devices. These are known as Assistive Technology devices, and come in all different types. Handheld electronic magnifiers, desktop electronic magnifiers, devices that can read printed text aloud, computer software to make the computer easier to see, even electronic glasses are all available! These devices can be used to carry out all sorts of tasks, reading, writing, watching television, going to a concert or play, seeing people's faces and on and on. There is a device to assist with almost every task, and getting an evaluation from a professional is a great way to figure out what works best for you. 

This is just a quick introduction to macular degeneration and tools which can be helpful. To find out more, feel free to call us at 1-800-919-3375. The important thing to remember is that macular degeneration doesn't have to be the end of the world, and with a little adaptation you can get up and running again!
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