Macular Degeneration of the Eye – a Basic Anatomy

Macular degeneration (AMD) of the eye is a growing health problem around the world. According to statistics, it affects approximately nine million Americans older than 40. In Australia, approximately 15 percent of the population over the age of 50 shows signs of the disease, while in Canada, the cases of AMD grow at a rate of 10,000 per year. 

Macular degeneration is a disease of the macula or the structure found at the center of the retina, which is the region of greatest visual acuity. Because it is highly associated with aging, the majority of AMD cases happen to the elderly. To understand this disease better, one must have a background on the eye structures affected by the condition, namely the retina, macula, and fovea. You would also do well to contact nCCRS to find out more about the condition. 

The retina, which is about 0.5 mm thick, is a structure that lines the back of the eye. It retina is responsible for converting light into electrical impulses, which are then sent to the brain by the rods and cones via the optic nerves. 

The macula, which is the main structure that becomes damaged in macular degeneration, is a yellow, oval-shaped spot found at the center of the retina. The area provides the clearest vision. The optic nerve connects to the macula; hence, any damage to the macula can affect the optic nerve and vice versa. 

Found at the center of the macula is the fovea. The fovea, also known as fovea centralis, is rich in cones, or the photoreceptors that are responsible for color vision. 

Macular degeneration of the eye occurs when the retina, macula, or fovea become damaged genetically, physically, or by the natural process of aging resulting in macular degeneration.

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