What is a maculopathy?

Maculopathy is any disease of the macula, an area in the center of the retina responsible for accurate vision. The retina is a light-sensitive tissue that lines the inner surface of the eye, and the macula is a yellow, oval-shaped area about five millimeters in diameter. While damage to other areas of the retina can lead to peripheral vision loss, which may go unnoticed for a time, maculopathy causes central vision impairment that is usually noticed immediately by the patient.

One of the most common diseases of the macula is macular degeneration, in which vision loss worsens over time. Macular degeneration is usually AMD or ARMD for short, age-related. Macular degeneration begins when small yellow or white deposits called drusen form in the macula. Most people over the age of 40 have some small drusen with no effect on their vision, a condition called age-related maculopathy. Age-related maculopathy is more likely to develop into advanced macular degeneration if the drusen are large and soft rather than small and hard.

Macular degeneration causes macular holes to form, leading to blind spots in central vision. Macular holes can also be caused by trauma, although the incidence is low. If a severe blow damages the blood vessels leading to the macula, vision loss can also occur. Malattia Leventinese, also called Doyne's honeycomb retinal dystrophy, is a type of hereditary macular degeneration in which drusen begin to form in early adulthood. Druze eventually form a honeycomb pattern in the macula, and like AMD, Malattia Leventinese leads to irreversible vision loss.

Macular puckering is another relatively common form of maculopathy, particularly in the older population. Macular puckering occurs due to a change in the vitreous humor, the clear jelly inside the eyeball, or as a symptom of diabetes. Unlike macular degeneration, macular puckering is usually completely curable, unless it is very advanced.

Macular puckering is characterized by a convergence of cells in the macula, which then separate, causing many macular symptoms. The cell layer can tighten and cause the macula to wrinkle or wrinkle, or it can cause macular edema or swelling. Macular edema is the buildup of fluid and protein on or under the macula, which can lead to obscured central vision. Another possible symptom is cellophane maculopathy, in which a thin, shiny membrane forms over the retina, obscuring the patient's vision.

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