When you think about age-related eye diseases, you probably think of macular degeneration, even if you aren’t familiar with the name. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the number one cause of severe vision loss and legal blindness in adults over the age of 60 in the United States. It affects 14% to 24% of the U.S. population aged 65 to 74 and 35% to 40% of people aged 74 years or older.
AMD is the most common cause of blindness in older individuals, but it is not the only eye condition affecting this population. Macular pucker, though less severe, is another cause of vision impairment in aging adults.
What is a macular pucker?
A macular pucker occurs when a layer of scar tissue grows over the surface of the macula. The macula is the area at the center of the eye’s retina that is responsible for detailed vision. The vitreous gel in the middle of the eye shrinks and pulls away from the macula, allowing the scar tissue to form. This can cause the retina to wrinkle or become swollen, leading to blurry vision or blindness.
What causes a macular pucker?
As you age, the vitreous gel shrinks and pulls away from the macula, causing a macular pucker. Other eye diseases and conditions associated with this issue, include:
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms range from mild to severe. You may notice that your central vision is blurry or distorted. You may also have a gray or cloudy spot in the center of your vision. Basically, vision loss will vary from none to severe, though total central vision loss is very uncommon.
What sort of treatment options are available?
For mild symptoms, you may not need treatment beyond updating your eyeglasses prescription. For more severe symptoms, you may undergo vitrectomy surgery.
This type of surgery is also performed on patients with a retinal detachment. Over 90% of those with a retinal detachment can be successfully treated this way, although sometimes a second treatment is necessary. A retinal detachment can occur at any age, but it is more common in people over age 40.