What are the differences between Macular Holes and Macular Degeneration?

Submitted by Elman Retina Group on January 20, 2016

Inside your eyes, there is a thin tissue along the back of the inner surface called the retina, which collects visual images and sends this information up the optic nerves to the brain. The macula is a spot at the center of the retina, and is necessary for performing focusing tasks such as reading fine detail and driving.

Vision loss can occur when the macula is affected by some sort of pathological condition. Two common disorders affecting the macula include macular holes and macular degeneration.

What is the difference between macular holes and macular degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration is very common. In this disease, the macula gradually deteriorates, leading to blurred vision or even blind spots at the center of a person’s visual field. The deterioration may be caused by the growth of small yellow deposits (dry type, most common) or the proliferation of leaky small leaky blood vessels (wet type) behind the retina. Risk factors for developing age-related macular degeneration include family history, obesity, sleep apnea, smoking, age, and prolonged sun-exposure.

A macular hole also involves damage to the macula, however in this case it is caused by age-related changes to the gel-like filling within the eye known as the vitreous. Because the vitreous is attached in some places to the retina via small fibers, tears or holes in the macula can form if the vitreous shrinks and contracts with age (macular holes are less often caused by eye damage or other eye diseases). The symptoms of a macular hole is similar to macular degeneration: blurred vision in the central visual field that can progress to central blind spots with time. In both diseases, a person’s peripheral vision generally remains intact.

Is it time for your annual eye examination?

The Elman retina group believes that through regular check-ups and healthy lifestyle choices, many vision problems can be prevented. It’s the reason why our team at Elman Retina recommends routine eye wellness exams every year. To schedule your next appointment, call us today.