Living with Macular Degeneration – Everything You Need to Know
Macular degeneration is a medical condition of the eyes. Since it is an age-related disease, older adults are the ones who have a higher susceptibility. Macula forms a very small part of the retina of your eyes, just about 2.1%. It is right in the center of the retina and hence responsible for capturing the central part of your vision. The macula controls a person’s ability to view the finer details of the objects. It helps them grasp the visual details that are necessary to identify the colors, other people’s faces or drive a vehicle. When macular degeneration sets in, the affected person begins to experience loss of central vision. The central part of their vision is blurry, distorted and shadowy.
Macular degeneration has become the major cause of visual impairment, engulfing more than 10 million people in the United States. The number of people affected by macular degeneration exceeds those affected by glaucoma and cataract collectively. With such high incidences of macular degeneration prevalent in the society, it has become important to spread awareness about the condition.
There are certain risk factors that can increase a person’s odds to get macular degeneration. It has been observed that Caucasian females are at a greater risk of getting macular degeneration. People suffering from high blood pressure and those who smoke have higher chances of getting the disease than their healthy, non-smoking counterparts. Excessive exposure to sunlight can speed up the onset of macular degeneration in otherwise healthy individuals. It doesn’t help if you are obese and have an inactive, sedentary lifestyle or if macular degeneration runs in your family.
Let’s take a look at the macular degeneration signs and symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms Macular Degeneration
Like we mentioned before, macular degeneration affects older adults. Hence, it is important to have regular eye checkups once you have reached 45 years of age. The severity of macular degeneration signs and symptoms depends upon the stage to which the disease has progressed.
At the initial stage of macular degeneration, the patient usually exhibits no symptoms. This is where the regular checkups turn out to be a lifesaver. When the disease has progressed to an intermediate stage, the patient exhibits symptoms like difficulty in reading because of blurry vision and the lines seem distorted. They experience difficulty in identifying faces because of the distortion of central vision. The colors of the objects appear less vibrant than they actually are.
At the later stage, the macular degeneration signs and symptoms become fairly significant. There is a considerable and noticeable loss of vision. The central vision becomes shadowy because it is being obstructed by blank spots.
Sadly, the exact cause of macular degeneration is not yet known. It is the insufficient funding that has been holding back the researchers to progress with their research. With little to no insight about the reasons, it is obviously impossible to cure macular degeneration. However, there are some treatment plans available that can delay the progression of the disease.
How is Macular Degeneration Treated?
The course of treatment of macular degeneration depends on its type; wet or dry. Dry macular degeneration is characterized by excessive accumulation of yellow-colored deposit, also known as drusen in medical terms, around the macula. People with high cholesterol levels often develop drusen around their macula that leads to macular degeneration. While no medical treatment or surgery can fix dry macular degeneration, clinical trials suggest that certain vitamins and antioxidants like zeaxanthin and lutein can help to delay the progression of dry macular degeneration. The supplements are prescribed by the doctor after a thorough examination of the patient’s condition and medical history. Also, some trials suggest that consumption of green leafy vegetables and fish slows down the degeneration process.
Wet macular degeneration is the outcome of the development of new, abnormal blood vessels in the region causing the blood or other fluids to leak into the macula, thus blocking the central vision. Nearly 10% of the cases of macular degeneration are wet; the remaining 90% are dry. The symptoms of wet macular degeneration are comparatively aggressive. The loss of central vision is very rapid. The wet macular degeneration is treated by injection angiogenesis inhibitors that restrain the growth of stray blood vessels. Laser surgery to destroy the abnormal blood vessels is also an effective way of treating wet macular degeneration.
Living with Macular Degeneration
While the treatment of macular degeneration can slow down the damage to a great extent, it cannot restore the vision that has been already lost. The person still experiences difficulty performing simple tasks such as reading, identifying colors and people. However, there are ways to improve the quality of life. There are low vision aids available for the patients struggling with the loss of central vision.
Microscopic low vision magnifiers help reduce the blur by magnifying the object that one has to view. The degree of magnification depends on the size of the object as well as the residual vision of the person. These magnifiers combine two lenses that work together, a magnifying lens and the person’s prescription eyeglasses. The microscopic low vision magnifiers can be used with one eye only.
The telescopic low vision devices are helpful for enhancing the distant vision, near vision or custom range of vision. These can be used for one eye or both eyes, depending on the patient’s condition. These telescopic devices combine two lenses; the prescription glasses and the small telescopes the degree and range of focus of which depends upon the patient’s condition. These can be helpful while playing cards, reading, watching television, walking etc. They also help in identifying the faces of people with better ease.
There is a range of extremely sophisticated low vision devices that can enhance a patient’s vision to a significant extent, by transfer the image to the unaffected, healthy part of the macula. They are known as the E-Scoop Low Vision Glasses. It can be said that these are the simplified version of the telescopic low vision devices.
Lastly, there is a low vision device known as the Prismatic Low Vision Readers, which is meant for patients who have approximately equal residual vision is both eyes and do not need significant magnification. These can have one lens or two lenses depending on patient’s condition.
So, this was everything that you needed to know about macular degeneration. It is important to shun the habit of smoking, eat healthy and stay active to have healthy eyes when you have aged. If at all macular degeneration is inevitable, it can be managed better if diagnosed early enough.
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How to Choose Low Vision Aids for Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration is an age-related disease that affects the retina of the eye. It impairs the central vision, in particular, making the center of the field appear blank and distorted. The cells of the macula that forms the central part of the retina begin to thin with age, which results in loss of central vision while peripheral vision is still intact.
Becoming dependent on the people around you is one of the most painful parts about losing your vision. However, what if we told you that you could improve the quality of your life by opting for low vision aids for macular degeneration? By low vision aids, we mean the optical devices that can improve your field of vision and the ease with which you can achieve your goals. The visual aids usually combine two or more specialized lenses to make your vision better. The way they work differs from one visual aid to another.
However, the kind of visual aids that a person may need depends on their condition, the extent of damage done to their macula and their residual vision. Besides, it also depends a lot on the kind of activities they wish to pursue using the visual aid. Let’s see how one should proceed while choosing low vision aids for macular degeneration.
The important thing to remember is that one size does not fit all. What works for someone might not work well for you. So when you decide to give low vision aids a try, keep an open mind. Low vision aids for macular degeneration can cost anything between $20 and $3000. It would be extremely smart of you to consult a low vision optometrist before you make a purchase.
Every type of low vision aid has its own pros and cons. You are never prescribed a particular low vision aid by a doctor. Consulting a low vision specialist will help you explore your options. You simply have to try every low vision aid that’s available and decide which one fulfills your goal in the best possible manner. Besides, the optometrist would most certainly have a tie-up with a reputed dealer of low vision aids and they would be happy to refer you to them.
Low Vision Aids for Different Circumstances
·         Spectacle Miniature Telescopes
Spectacle miniature telescopes are perfect for people who need both hands to be free to accomplish their task. These are basically a combination of prescription eyeglasses mounted with high-quality miniature telescopes. Tasks like knitting, playing cards, watching television, working in the kitchen, etc can be performed by putting on spectacle miniature telescopes. These spectacles improve one’s central vision to a great extent. These can help people with low vision to accomplish tasks that need them to be mobile; such as walking and driving a car. They can see the signs and traffic signal lights in a better manner. However, telescopic devices limit your field of view. Therefore, one needs to check with their optometrist if they would be eligible to drive after getting bioptic telescopes.
The size, power and angle at which the telescopes need to be mounted onto the prescription glasses vary with the purpose of use. Telescopic optics is very sophisticated and complicated. Therefore, it is necessary to consult a highly experienced low vision optometrist to get the right device.
Microscopic Low Vision Magnifiers
The microscopic low vision magnifiers combine the prescription eyeglasses with high-power magnifying lenses. The problem with high-power magnifiers lenses is that they narrow your field of vision. If given a choice between a 2x and 3x magnifier lenses, you might choose the one that provides 3x magnification.  You might think that bigger is better. However, you will end up seeing a much smaller area. The trick is to choose the magnifier with the least power that you can pull off and still be able to view a decently large area. These glasses work best when you have to read books or newspaper with small prints.
E-Scoop Low Vision Glasses
The E-Scoop Low Vision Glasses are the most sophisticated of all the low vision aids for macular degeneration. Not only do they enhance one’s vision dramatically but also improve the color contrast of the view. These glasses were created with an aim to tide over the differences between regular eyeglasses and head borne telescopes. They are comparatively expensive, but the way they work is like magic. The lenses literally move the image that you are seeing to a different, healthy part of your macula. Thanks to the base up prism, optimum lens thickness, and the specific base curve!
The glasses, like we just said, provide a better color contrast. This is particularly helpful for those who have poor contrast sensitivity. Moreover, the anti-reflective coating ensures minimal loss of light due to reflection, which eventually improves your vision when you put the glasses on. The E-Scoop Low Vision Glasses makes it easier to see the objects at a distance and therefore very helpful for activities like driving even at night.
Spectacle Prismatic Glasses
These are very simple and uncomplicated low vision aids for macular degeneration. They can have one or two lenses, depending on the condition of one’s vision. These spectacles have lenses of moderate power and are best for viewing nearby objects. These can be used while one is writing, reading or making handicrafts. The spectacle prismatic glasses are ideal for people who have almost equal vision is both eyes and do not demand very high magnification.
Apart from different kinds of spectacles, some people might also need additional lighting. Macular degeneration hampers the light-sensitive tissues in the eye. One can simply ensure that more natural light comes into their house through the windows. Alternatively, there are special lamps available that imitate the natural light. These electronic low vision aids have options for adjusting the contrast and brightness as well.
We suppose this article gave you a decent insight into low vision aids for macular degeneration that are available and that it would prove helpful in making the right choice.

6 Common Magnifier Mistakes for Low Vision
Macular degeneration is an age-related condition of the eyes. The macula that forms the central part of the retina is responsible for producing central vision. Macular degeneration causes the cells of the macula to erode with time, causing loss of central vision. Currently the leading cause of visual impairment, macular degeneration has affected more than 10 million people in the USA.
Though the disease is incurable, it can be controlled and managed efficiently if diagnosed well in time. Dry macular degeneration is often treated with dietary supplements whereas laser surgery works best for wet macular degeneration. While it is not possible to retrieve the lost vision, there are low vision aids to enhance the quality of what’s left.
However, there are some misconceptions that people have in their minds when it comes to choosing a low vision aid. They often get trapped and end up choosing the wrong device. Let’s take a look at the most common mistake that you could make while picking a macular degen treatment magnifiers low vision aid.
·         Any Magnifier will Work
People with macular degeneration are not prescribed low vision aids. An optometrist simply helps them explore their options. The science behind visual aids is very complex and it has a reason. A single visual aid doesn’t work for everyone and every task. Some macular degen treatment magnifiers low vision aids are meant to be worn for one eye only.
The extent of damage from macular degeneration, the amount of residual vision, the power of prescription eyeglasses, and the type activity the person engages in are the deciding factors when it comes to choosing your pick. Every visual aid is designed keeping in mind the above-mentioned factors. The power of the lens and the amount of magnification varies greatly. This is why there are so many visual aids available in the market.
-          Microscopic Low Vision Magnifiers for reading.
-          Spectacle Prismatic Glasses for engaging in handicrafts and writing
-          Spectacle Miniature Telescopes for knitting, watching television, playing card games, driving etc.

·         Bigger Magnifiers make Things Bigger
First off, let’s understand the correlation between the size of the lens and the magnification power. The size of the lens is expressed in terms of diameter for round lenses and length in terms of rectangular lenses. The lens size usually ranges between 1” and 5” for both round and rectangular lenses. There is a negative correlation between the lens size and its magnification power. If the size of the lens increases, its magnification power decreases. Similarly, as the size of the lens decreases, it magnification power increases.
Smaller lenses are easy to carry. Bigger lenses, owing to their smaller magnification power, allow you to see a larger area. Choosing a macular degen treatment magnifiers low vision aid is more of a compromise between utility and convenience.
·         Stronger Magnifiers are Better
This is the most common of all the misconceptions among the patients of macular degeneration. It is easy to assume that stronger magnifiers that produce highly magnified images are their best bet. However, they fail to take into consideration the tradeoff between the degree of magnification and area of vision. The correlation is fairly simple. Higher the magnification power of the low vision aid, smaller the area that you can see. Similarly, lower the magnification larger the area of vision. The key is to find the low vision aid with the smallest magnification which you can pull off without straining your eyes.
·         I can Hold My Magnifier in Any Way
Truth be told; you simply cannot hold your magnifier any way you want. The way a magnifier should be held depends on the type of the magnifier, the type of object you are trying to view and the distance between you and the object.
For example, if you want to read a book, you will need to hold your magnifier in front of the book, not too far from your eyes, at such an angle that maximum light get directed towards your eyeglasses and the image of the text gets effectively shifted to the healthy part of the macula when the light refracts from the lens. If the lens isn’t held the way it should be, the refraction angle will get distorted and won’t produce a clear visual field as effectively as it should.
The same principle applies to viewing objects at a distance. For the purpose of driving and walking, you would need spectacle miniature telescopes. The telescopes are mounted onto the prescription eyeglasses at a specific angle. The lens, in this case, is much closer to the eyes.
·         Lighting Doesn’t Matter
Lighting is the most important component of vision. If lighting didn’t matter, we would be able to see in the dark! To see an object in its correct depth, color and distance calls for the right amount and right kind of light. In case of macular degeneration, wherein the light-sensitive cells of the retina wither away, good lighting gains an increased significance.
Poor lighting will hinder your ability to see even if you are wearing a visual aid. This is because the visual aid needs light to create the image for you to see. Too bright of an environment will most probably produce glares and hurt your eyes. The right kind of light plays an important role in creating an image with the correct contrast. This is why people who have lost their contract-sensitivity need special lights in their house to see things better.
·         One Tool Should Do it All
Each of the macular degen treatment magnifiers low vision aids is designed differently for different purposes. A magnifier meant for reading cannot be used for watching a game on the soccer field. The distance between the object of vision and the size of the object in these two cases are different. The light conditions are different and so is the nature of the objects. The text on your book is stationery and players on the field are in motion. It takes different kinds of lens combinations and degree of magnification to produce the perfect image of the visual field under varying circumstances. In a nutshell, a single visual aid might not work equally well for anything other than its intended purpose.
Now that the myths are busted, you should be able to figure out what kind of low vision aid works for you. Do visit an optometrist in your area for assistance in ordering the right device suited for your specific needs.

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