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Latest Questions and Answers
What is the average size of the macula in a young, healthy person who less than 25 years of age? How does the size of the macula change as we age? [ 11/30/11 ]

The retina is the light-sensitive portion of the eye that contains the nerves and is therefore responsible for the transmission of visual stimuli. The macula is the central portion of the retina and in actuality only comprises approximately two percent of the retina; the other 98 percent is not affected by macular degeneration. The length or span of the retina referred to as the macula remains fairly constant in adulthood; it is the thickness of this region that changes/decreases with increasing age. There is a published scientific report on age-related changes to the macula and other regions of the retina in the 2009 issue of Ophthalmology, volume 116, issue 6, pages 119-24 (Authors: Sung KR et al.) which might be helpful in gaining a better understanding of this topic.

In a recent issue of Macular Degeneration News, there was an article about out-of-control immune systems and light-damaged retinas. Although I do not know if my dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD) can be attributed to light damage, I am curious whether Iwould be susceptible to retinal damage from Cc12, since I have had rheumatoid arthritis, and for nearly 12 years have been treated with Remicade. Since both the rheumatoid arthritis and Remicade have compromised my immune system, do I incur more risk from Cc12? When I was first diagnosed with AMD I protected my eyes from excessive light; however, that wasn't the case when I was young (I'm now 77.) Thank you for responding to my question about the possible immune system connection. [ 11/27/11 ]

Experimental models of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) suggest that short-wave blue light can induce retinal injury and may be associated with increased progression of ARMD. The article mentioned in the newsletter details research performed in a rat model. Since Cc12 is only one small part in a complex immune response linked to ARMD, it is difficult to say if your rheumatoid arthritis places you at increased risk for ARMD progression. In fact, the immune system suppressing drug, Remicade, may provide a degree of protection in some way. Most importantly, the actual effects of excessive light in human eyes are currently undergoing much research and debate; however, protecting your eyes from excessive light has little risk and would be a reasonable precaution to take until the effects of excess light in humans is definitely known.

I was in the Army and suffered a few head injuries. Subsequent to the injuries, I noticed my sight getting worse and found out that I had Best disease. Can head injuries influence the progression of this eye disease? [ 11/26/11 ]

Best disease is slowly progressing degeneration of central vision. Two cases have been reported of eye trauma leading to more rapid progression of eye disease; however, no cases have been reported of actual head trauma leading to progression of Best disease, but this seems logically possible. Both groups reporting the two published cases suggest that anyone with Best disease wear protective eyewear when performing any activities that increase risk of eye trauma.

My 88-year-old mother has macular degeneration in both eyes. She has no central vision in her right eye, but has 20/60 vision in her left eye. Why can she see the chart at 20/60, but cannot see large print? I have taken her to a center where they specialize in working with people who have partial vision and she was not able to read using any of the assistive devices. I am confused and would appreciate any suggestions or comments. [ 11/25/11 ]

The eye chart measures distance vision, which is different from near or reading vision. After the age of 40 – 60, aging of the natural lens causes near vision to slowly decline. This can typically be corrected with reading glasses. If your mother cannot read despite a current spectacle correction including a reading correction, something else may be going on with her eye. She could have changes from age-related macular degeneration that were not noted during the eye examination, but do limit her ability to read. Please talk further with your mother's eye doctor as to why she cannot read while using corrective eyeglasses.

I receive injections every four weeks for wet age-related macular degeneration. After having cataract surgery, I went for my injection and the speculum was put on my eye incorrectly, which opened the wound from the cataract surgery; fluid then began to leak out. Since that time, the vision in that eye has become very blurry and sometimes I have double vision. Did the leaking fluid cause any issues with my macular region? [ 11/23/11 ]

The fluid leaking out of the eye can cause changes in the eye pressure. If the eye pressure falls beneath a certain point, the eye will start to lose the normal shape, which can cause blurred vision. If the fluid is no longer leaking from the cataract surgery wound, the eye will quickly regain normal pressure and the blurred vision will resolve. No definitive link as been established between cataract surgery or wound leaks after cataract surgery and progression of age-related macular degeneration.

I am 63 years old, and my doctor informed me that I have drusen in both eyes near the macula. The Amsler grid looks normal to me; however, when I look at a road sign, a telephone line, or a straight line object, I can see a very small distortion at the exact spot I am looking at. I never noticed this until after my doctor’s visit. Is this a sign that wet macular degeneration is developing? Should I reschedule a visit with the doctor? [ 09/27/11 ]

Visual distortion in patients with dry age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is frequently related to the conversion to the wet form of the disease. You might have early ARMD and may benefit from evaluation by your eye doctor. A small region of distortion can be caused by a variety of reasons, but several of them are vision threatening. The possibility of a vision threatening process such as wet ARMD merits an evaluation to help you sort out what exactly might be causing your distortion.

My wife, who is 37 years old, just went for an eye check, and they noticed some white spots in her left eye. The doctor told her that she has macular degeneration, but I thought that macular degeneration spots were yellow and not white. She is going to see a specialist now, but do you have any idea as to what eye condition my wife might have if it is not macular degeneration? My wife’s 68-year-old father also has macular degeneration that started a few years ago. [ 09/26/11 ]

Yellow-white spots, called drusen, are a common finding in macular degeneration. A type of drusen can also be found in eyes without age-related macular degeneration, and these particular drusen are considered normal. Age-related macular degeneration typically does not present before 55 years of age, so your wife may have these drusen. The white spots could be from a variety of other processes, some harmless and others very concerning. Please speak to your eye doctor about the white spot finding and its significance.

Is the optical coherence tomography (OCT) test painful, risky, or uncomfortable? What should I expect to happen during the test? Is it crucial to a diagnosis? What is the angio test? [ 09/24/11 ]

The OCT test has minimal risk and is very comfortable. You will place your chin on a chin rest and be asked to look at a light. The actual OCT picture taking process should take less than a minute, and involves a dim light focused in your retina. An OCT test is a valuable ancillary test for management of a variety of retinal diseases and will be very helpful to your retina specialist.

The fluorescein angiography test involves the injection of a dye into your veins to monitor for any problems of the retinal blood vessels. The procedure involves a small needle stick. Side effects to the dye or procedure are rare, but most commonly involve nausea. Very rarely someone can have an allergic reaction to the dye which can be life threatening. Please speak to your retina specialist about the risks of any study prior to undergoing the actual test.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is a public service of the BrightFocus Foundation and should not in any way substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional; it is not intended to constitute medical advice. Please consult your physician for personalized medical advice. BrightFocus Foundation does not endorse any medical product or therapy. All medications and supplements should only be taken under medical supervision. Also, although we make every effort to keep the medical information on our website updated, we cannot guarantee that the posted information reflects the most up-to-date research.

Some of the content in this section is adapted from other sources, which are clearly identified within each individual item of information.

Last Review: 04/26/13

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