Age-related macular degeneration or ARMD is a condition where the central vision is gradually lost, but excluding the peripheral vision. The central vision is handled by the macula so ARMD is a degenerative disorder concerning the macula. Once the cells of the macula are affected, it could get damaged and eventually die.
The central vision is important in driving, reading, doing very detailed work and recognizing faces. The rate of decline can be different from a couple of months to years which are largely dependent of the severity and type of ARMD. There is permanent visual loss caused by ARMD but treatment intervention can delay or stop the rate of decline of visual loss.
ARMD puts the elderly people at high risk. But there are also very rare cases of macular degeneration involving younger people. Essentially, ARMD is capable of affecting anyone. This condition is a very common cause of serious visual problems in UK. This condition worsens as the patient gets older. Once ARMD infects one eye, the patient must anticipate that it will also infect the other eye as well. About one in every one hundred people in the age range of sixty-five to seventy-five and one in every eight people aged above eighty-five can have a severe ARMD which could cause blindness. Women who are aged seventy-five and above are a higher risk of acquiring ARMD than most men in the same age range.
The back portion of the eyeball
When a person looks at objects, the light emanating from the object would go through the cornea, then go the lens and then hit the retina which is located at the pack portion of the eye.
- Retina. This part of the eye is composed of two layers. The first layer contains the ‘seeing cells’ or the rods and cones. These special cells react to the light and would send electrical signals to the nerve fibers that are bundled up in the optic nerve going through the brain. The outer portion of the retina is also called as the retinal pigment epithelium. This layer is comprised of cells that nourish and provide support for the ‘seeing cells’ or the rods and cones. The cells give nutrients coming from the blood vessels located in the choroid toward the seeing cells. These cells also take away the waste materials coming from the seeing cell. The waste is then taken to the blood vessel and into the choroid. The rod cells enable a person to see the color grey and all its various shades while the cone cells are responsible for the colored vision.
- Macula. This is a very small but very important part of the retina. The central portion of the macula is referred to as the fovea. The macula is a special retinal part that is densely filled with rods and cones cells. Cone cells are more predominantly found in the macula.
- Choroid. This is tissue layer found at the back of the retina. This portion contains numerous small blood vessels. These blood vessels are responsible for taking the nutrients and oxygen up the retina.
- Bruch’s membrane. This very thin membrane helps in the formation of a barrier to separate the choroid from the very delicate retina.
- Sclera. This is the thick white outer layer of the eyes.
The macula is where the light from objects is focused on. In order to see clearly, the macula should be healthy as it is very important in driving, reading, writing, studying, and recognizing faces. The remaining parts of the retina are mainly for peripheral vision. Even without the macula, a person can still see but the central vision is lost. Once the central vision is lost, normal sight can also be affected a great deal.