Macular dystrophy is a genetic eye condition that leads to vision loss. It is associated with the abnormal functioning of the macula, which is a part of the human eye that facilitates the central vision. Macula is a tiny oval-shaped spot which is present in the middle part of the retina. In case of some people, macula starts getting damaged as they age. This leads to a loss of central vision. In medical terminology, this condition is referred to as macular degeneration. Their peripheral vision, however, may remain unaffected.
Age-related macular degeneration generally develops in people who are in their 50s. Macular dystrophy, on the other hand, develops early in life. It is a genetic form of macular degeneration. This inherited retinal eye problem leads to the progressive loss of central vision. As the disease progresses, one's ability to read and recognize faces gets adversely affected. Wondering what causes this condition? What are the most effective macular dystrophy treatment options? Here's some information on the symptoms and treatment of this autosomal recessive eye disorder.
What is Macula
Macula is a small yellow-colored oval spot that is positioned at the center of the retina at the back of our eyes. It consists of layers of tissue. These include choroid layer, Bruch's membrane, retinal pigment epithelium and photoreceptor cells. The choroid layer contains capillaries that perform the task of supplying oxygen and blood to the cone cells, whereas the Bruch's membrane demarcates the capillaries in the choroid layer from the layer of retinal pigment epithelium.
The retinal pigment epithelium performs the task of supplying the nutrients from the choroid layer to the photoreceptor cells. It also transports the wastes from the rods and cone cells to the capillaries present in the choroid layer. The photoreceptor cells send the signals through the optic nerve. These are responsible for the conversion of the light into impulses. These impulses are then interpreted by the brain and this is how we see the world around us. While cone cells are responsible for the detailed colored central vision, rod cells that surround the macula facilitate peripheral vision.
Symptoms of Macula Dystrophy
When the parts of the macula are unable to function normally, one is said to suffer from macular dystrophy. It manifests in the form of a changed appearance of the macula. It might look pale or small specks of brown, black or red might appear. At times, a buildup of a fatty yellow pigment called lipofuscin may affect the central vision. Under such circumstances, one is diagnosed with vitelliform macular dystrophy. The central vision might get distorted and the sufferer might suffer from a progressive loss of central vision.
A person affected by this eye condition is likely to experience photophobia and may also face difficulty in reading or recognizing faces. Other symptoms that may be experienced include progressive loss of detailed vision, blurred vision, loss of contrast sensitivity and problems with discerning colors. Doctors can suggest the treatment options only after assessing the type of macular dystrophy one is suffering from. Best disease is one of the types of macular dystrophy that shows up during early childhood years.
Treatment Options for Macular Dystrophy
Macular dystrophy could be caused due to faulty genes or might be an inherited retinal disease. The symptoms might start appearing in childhood, teenage or at the onset of adulthood. A gradual loss of vision may occur with time. It is therefore essential to identify the symptoms soon. As far as the treatment is concerned, a laser eye surgery called phototherapeutic keratectomy might be conducted for the removal of superficial opacities. The use of lubricating eye drops or an antibiotic patch might be required to prevent corneal lesions. Since the affected individuals generally develop fear of bright lights, they must use sunglasses.
Sometimes corneal transplantation might be recommended for treating this eye condition. Use of vision aids can also help the sufferer cope with this disorder. The use of reading magnifiers, computer screen magnifiers, low vision electronic reading devices or large print reading material will certainly help. Following a healthy diet is also important. Doctors may also recommend the use of macular degeneration vitamins or nutritional supplements.
People suffering from macular dystrophy must go for regular eye checkups and pay attention to the aspect of eye care. Though the progressive vision loss cannot be prevented, such visually impaired individuals will surely benefit from the use of visual aids.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is meant for informative purposes only. The information provided here is not intended to replace the advice of a medical practitioner.