What is the retina?
The retina is a very thin and delicate tissue that lines the back of the eye and converts light images into nerve impulses that are sent along the optic nerve to the brain. It is essentially the film in the camera.
What is the macula?
The macula is the central portion of the retina. It enables us to see fine detail (reading vision) and color.
What is the fovea?
The fovea is the central pit of the macula that produces sharpest vision. It contains a high concentration of cones and no retinal blood vessels.
What is macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 55. The macula is the center of the retina that allows us to see sharp central vision. The damage that occurs can result in loss of central vision or reading vision.
How is macular degeneration diagnosed?
The major symptom of macular degeneration is distortion or loss of central vision. When viewing an Amsler grid, some straight lines may appear wavy, and some patches of the grid appear blank. Macular degeneration is diagnosed by an ophthalmologist who is able to look retina in the back of the eye after dilating the pupils.
What is dry macular degeneration?
Fatty deposits called drusen may develop under the macula. Medium or large drusen in the macula are diagnostic of dry macular degeneration.
What is wet macular degeneration?
The moment abnormal new blood vessels grow under the retina the diagnosis changes to wet macular degeneration. These abnormal vessels typically leak fluid and blood under the retina disturbing macular or central visual function as described above.
Is there a cure for macular degeneration?
There is not cure available for macular degeneration, only methods of decreasing the risk and rate of vision loss. There are vitamins and antioxidants that have been proven to be helpful in patient with dry AMD. Lasers and special drugs that are injected into the eye have been found to be helpful in wet AMD.
Lucentis is a new drug that has recently received FDA approval for the treatment of wet AMD. It typically useful in patients who have recent onset of wet macular degeneration and not typically patients who have longstanding vision loss due to a central disciform scar.
Where can I find eyeglasses, sunglasses or low vision visual aids?
The Division of Ophthalmology does not currently have a optical dispensary. We currently work with various local opticians who carry
eyeglasses and sunglasses &
low vision visual aids. We also work with the Joslin Eye Center and the Mass Eye and Ear for Low Vision evaluations.
Eye conditions may be very complicated and without your eyes being examined by an expert, it is difficult to provide an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. We receive a large number of inquiries from individuals asking for advice about their eye condition. However, we are not able to address these questions and issues effectively via email or telephone. If you have a question regarding an eye condition or you are worried about your eyes, we recommend that you contact your health care provider or your Ophthalmologist or make an appointment with one here at the BIDMC Retina Service 617-667-3391.