Macular Degeneration Home > Dry Macular Degeneration

Dry macular degeneration is an eye disease in which the light-sensitive cells in the retina break down, leading to a loss of central vision. The exact cause is unknown, but certain risk factors include obesity, smoking, and family history. The most common symptom of this disease is blurry vision. While there is no cure, especially for the advanced form, certain vitamins are sometimes used to treat early form of the disease.

What Is Dry Macular Degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD, or just macular degeneration) is a common eye disease that is associated with aging. It blurs the sharp, central vision needed for "straight-ahead" activities, such as reading, sewing, and driving.
There are two types of macular degeneration: dry and wet. About 90 percent of people with macular degeneration have dry macular degeneration, and the remaining 10 percent have wet macular degeneration.
About 1.7 million Americans have some form of macular degeneration. It is the leading cause of vision loss among Americans ages 65 and over.

Understanding the Eye

In order to understand dry macular degeneration, it is helpful to understand the parts of your eye involved with sight. These structures include the cornea, iris, pupil, lens, macula, and retina.
Your cornea is a thin, clear layer on the outside of your eye. The iris, or the colored part of your eye, is a muscle that controls the amount of light going through your pupil, which is the round opening in the center of your eye. Behind the iris sits the lens, which is just larger than your pupil. The iris is enclosed by a thin, clear capsule that holds the lens in its proper place.
When light enters your eye, the cornea and lens form the light rays into a beam of light that is focused directly onto your retina -- the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. The retina instantly converts light, or an image, into electrical impulses. The retina then sends these impulses, or nerve signals, to the brain through the optic nerve. The optic nerve is a bundle of more than one million nerve fibers connecting the retina to the brain.
The macula is located in the center of the retina. It is made up of millions of light-sensing cells that help to produce central vision.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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