The macula is the central part of the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. The retina processes all visual images. It is responsible for your ability to read, recognise faces, drive and see colours clearly. You are reading this computer screen using your macula. Macular Degeneration (MD) causes progressive macular damage resulting in loss of central vision but the peripheral vision is not affected. There are two types of MD, dry and wet. Dry MD results in a gradual loss of central vision. Wet MD is characterised by a sudden loss of vision caused by abnormal blood vessels growing under the retina. Immediate medical treatment of wet MD is essential if symptoms occur. Aside from increasing age over 50 years, MD is thought to be caused by genetic and environmental factors.
If you smoke or have a family history of MD, your risk of developing the disease is much greater.
Other risk factors include diet and lifestyle.