Macular degeneration is the leading cause of impaired reading or detailed vision. It is caused by the breakdown of the macula, the central portion of the retina. Although macular degeneration causes distortion of central and color vision, side vision is not affected. Usually, macular degeneration is a natural result of the aging process. Over time, the retinal tissues can break down and become thin. In about 10% of cases of macular degeneration, aging of the retina is made worse by leakage of tiny blood vessels, which nourish the retina.
The most notable symptom of macular degeneration is blurry or distorted central vision. A person with macular degeneration may experience blurry words on a page, distortion of the center of a scene, a dark or empty area in the center of vision, or the distortion of lines.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for macular degeneration. However, laser treatment may be used to slow the progression of the disease. Regular eye examinations are the only way to detect the development of this disease. Early detection of macular degeneration may prevent further vision loss, since treatment is only effective when started early.