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Optelec

Macular Degeneration

What is Macular Degeneration?

Macular Degeneration is a medical condition often associated with aging (also referred to as “age-related Macular Degeneration”) that results in a loss of vision in the centre of your visual field. Central vision helps us to see objects clearly and perform tasks such as reading and driving.

Macular Degeneration is a progressive disease thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. It can occur in ‘dry’ and ‘wet’ forms and is the major cause of visual impairment amongst adults from the age of 50.

Dry Macular Degeneration

Dry Macular Degeneration is caused when the light-sensitive cells in the central part of your vision slowly break down. The result is that you will experience gradually blurring vision (see the image above). It may start with one or two spots, which gradually expand into larger areas, causing loss of vision.

The dry form of Macular Degeneration can be divided into three distinct stages:

  1. Early Macular Degeneration: causes small yellow spots under your retina (the lightsensitive tissue lining the inner surface of your eye). In this stage you will rarely experience symptoms or loss of vision.
  2. Intermediate Macular Degeneration: the yellow spots under your retina grow larger and expand, causing blurred spots in the centre of your vision. In this stage you may need more light to read or perform other tasks.
  3. Advanced Macular Degeneration: in addition to yellow spots, the light-sensitive cells in your central retinal area break down, causing a large blurred spot in the centre of your vision. This blurred spot may grow larger and darker over time. In this stage, you will experience difficulty reading and recognizing faces, unless these are very close to your eyes.

Normal vision vs. Macular Degeneration in an early stage

Normal vision vs. Macular Degeneration in an advanced stage

Wet Macular Degeneration

Approximately 10-15% of people with Macular Degeneration experience the ‘wet’ form. It is caused by leaking of blood and fluid from your blood vessels, located behind your retina. These fluids cause the macula (the central part of your visual field) to be raised from its normal place, causing rapid damage to your vision. One of the earliest symptoms you may experience is that straight lines appear wavy.

What are the symptoms of Macular Degeneration

Symptoms of Macular Degeneration include:

  • blurred vision
  • shadows or missing areas of vision
  • distorted vision
  • trouble discerning colours
  • slow recovery of visual function after exposure to bright light
  • a loss in contrast sensitivity

What to expect from Macular Degeneration

Macular Degeneration damages the central vision of your eye, which is responsible for approximately 35% of your visual field. You may experience difficulty recognizing faces, reading and driving. Your peripheral vision is not damaged by Macular Degeneration, so you can still lead an independent life.

Helpful Tips

Even if your eye care professional says, “Nothing more can be done for your vision,” ask how vision rehabilitation can help you make the most of your remaining vision through orientation and mobility training, and use of vision aids. Additional tips:

  • Get regular comprehensive eye examinations from your doctor
  • Eat a healthy diet high in green leafy vegetables, fish, fruit, whole grains and foods with vitamin D
  • Don’t smoke
  • Exercise regularly
  • Use task-oriented lighting when preforming daily activities
  • See beyond your diagnosis – learn what Optelec vision aids can help!

More information about Macular Degeneration

There is extensive information available about Macular Degeneration. The information included is intended to inform you about the basics of this eye condition, and is not intended as a replacement for information from your physician or eye specialist. Information regarding assistive devices that can help you if you have been diagnosed with Macular Degeneration is included. Our recommendations can be found under Tools and Resources.

Living with Macular Degeneration

Hearing that your sight is affected by Macular Degeneration may change your world, but be comforted by the knowledge that you are not alone. There are many people in your situation, some that have also just been diagnosed and some that have been living with Macular Degeneration for years. Below are two Optelec customers who have shared their story on how they coped with Macular Degeneration and today are able to lead a productive and independent lifestyle.

Testimonial

As an avid fan of reading, Adeline used to grow tired of watching the television every day for her news and entertainment. She yearned to spend her days in her Connecticut home reading a good book and delving into the newspaper instead. Her Macular Degeneration made reading extremely difficult until she was introduced to the Optelec ClearView+ through her local Authorized Dealer. Now she can’t imagine how anyone with low vision gets along without it.

“I feel normal because I can read the newspaper, I can read a book, I can read documents, I can read my checkbook balances. I can read the active ingredients in my medicine bottle without any difficulty. I think this machine is a godsend. Otherwise I would not know what is going on in my community, in my state or nation. It does get tiresome to watch TV. I like to read so it has been a great pleasure to me.”

Adeline now participates actively in her reading group and highly recommends the ClearView+ to anyone living with low vision.

Adeline D, Connecticut

Testimonial

You don’t have to be old to develop Macular Degeneration. Amy Bower, PhD, found that out when she was 24 and attending graduate school at the University of Rhode Island. At that point in time, Bower was already committed to a career in oceanography. “At first I lost my night vision, but soon I started losing my central vision as well,” says Bower, now 41. While continuing her studies, she initially relied on a variety of vision aids, including eyeglasses with built-in magnifiers. But even as she began her position as a research scientist in physical oceanography at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Bower’s vision deteriorated.

She turned to the Optelec ClearView+ desktop video magnifier – a new product at the time. She now has one for work and one for use at home. “My work involves reading, analyzing graphics and publishing in professional journals,” says Bower, who is now tenured and is the senior female scientist in physical oceanography, a field concerned with the ocean’s role in climate as well as the physics of ocean currents. Her work also includes travel for weeks at a time to places like the Indian Ocean, Mediterranean Sea and the North Atlantic.

“We have lab benches and desks on board, and I take my ClearView unit along,” says Bower, whose intelligence and commitment to her chosen field has earned the respect of her colleagues. Could she accomplish her work without the ClearView unit? “I suppose I could hire readers, but a lot of what I do involves reading graphics, which you have to analyze yourself,” she notes. “Besides, I value my independence.”

Amy Bower, Massachusetts

Many people with Macular Degeneration continue to do the activities they always did. You may learn to use your peripheral vision more efficiently and will learn to rely on your other senses to help you through the day.

There is currently no cure for Macular Degeneration. For Dry Macular Degeneration there are certain treatments that can help slow down the progression. Discuss this with your eye care professional to see what your options are.

If you experience vision loss as a result of Macular Degeneration, there are low vision devices that can assist you with those tasks that you have difficulty with. These devices will assist you with various visual tasks and will help you in continuing to lead an independent and full life.

Tools and Resources for Macular Degeneration

There is extensive literature available on Macular Degeneration. The Internet provides a wealth of information and most countries have one or more associations or support groups for people affected by Macula Degeneration. Our recommendations:

Macula Vision Research Foundation & SupportSight Seminars

  • Website
  • Facebook
  • Twitter @MVRFoundation
  • Phone: 866 462-2852
  • Learn more about Optelec’s NEW Partnership by clicking HERE!

Macular Degeneration Association

  • Website
  • Facebook
  • Twitter @MacularHope
  • Phone: 941 870-4399

Macular Degeneration Partnership

  • Website
  • Phone: 310 623-4466

Association for Macular Diseases

American Macular Degeneration Foundation

Prevent Blindness America

  • Website
  • Facebook
  • Twitter @PBA_savingsight
  • Phone: 800 331-2020

Foundation Fighting Blindness

  • Website
  • Facebook
  • Twitter: @fightblindness
  • Phone: 800 683-5551

There are many devices that can assist you in a variety of daily tasks if you have Macular Degeneration. Below is a short summary of some of these devices. For more information we suggest you browse through our product assortment or use our easy Help Me Choose assistant below to search and filter based on your wishes.

Products that may be useful if you have Macular Degeneration:

ClearView C Full HD Speech

Is reading too tiresome for you? Are you looking for a stylish magnifier that reads your printed documents aloud?

Item No.: CVC-HD-OCR-24-G3-US-A-13M

ClearView C 24″ Full HD Flex (This product is not available anymore)

Are you looking for a stylish High Definition magnifier that takes up less space on your desk?

Item No.: CVCHD24FLEX

Optelec Compact 7 HD

The Optelec Compact 7 HD is a truly portable 7-inch widescreen electronic video magnifier.

Item No.: COMP7HD

Optelec Traveller HD

Would you like to read in multiple locations? Are you looking for a more natural and fluent reading experience?

Help me choose

Don’t know what visual aid suits your eye condition the best? We help you to find the right product.

Information about how Macular Degeneration affects your sight. Browse the Optelec website to learn more about low vision aids.

Optelec

Macular Degeneration

What is Macular Degeneration?

Macular Degeneration is a medical condition often associated with aging (also referred to as “age-related Macular Degeneration”) that results in a loss of vision in the centre of your visual field. Central vision helps us to see objects clearly and perform tasks such as reading and driving.

Macular Degeneration is a progressive disease thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. It can occur in ‘dry’ and ‘wet’ forms and is the major cause of visual impairment amongst adults from the age of 50.

Normal vision vs. Macular Degeneration in an early stage

Normal vision vs. Macular Degeneration in an advanced stage

If you are diagnosed with Macular Degeneration you can still continue living an independent life. There are many assistive devices that can help you. Our recommendations can be found here.

Dry Macular Degeneration

Dry Macular Degeneration is caused when the light-sensitive cells in the central part of your vision slowly break down. The result is that you will experience gradually blurring vision (see the image above). It may start with one or two spots, which gradually expand into larger areas, causing loss of vision.

The dry form of Macular Degeneration can be divided into three distinct stages:

  1. Early Macular Degeneration: causes small yellow spots under your retina (the lightsensitive tissue lining the inner surface of your eye). In this stage you will rarely experience symptoms or loss of vision.
  2. Intermediate Macular Degeneration: the yellow spots under your retina grow larger and expand, causing blurred spots in the centre of your vision. In this stage you may need more light to read or perform other tasks.
  3. Advanced Macular Degeneration: in addition to yellow spots, the light-sensitive cells in your central retinal area break down, causing a large blurred spot in the centre of your vision. This blurred spot may grow larger and darker over time. In this stage, you will experience difficulty reading and recognizing faces, unless these are very close to your eyes.

Wet Macular Degeneration

Approximately 10-15% of people with Macular Degeneration experience the ‘wet’ form. It is caused by leaking of blood and fluid from your blood vessels, located behind your retina. These fluids cause the macula (the central part of your visual field) to be raised from its normal place, causing rapid damage to your vision. One of the earliest symptoms you may experience is that straight lines appear wavy.

What are the symptoms of Macular Degeneration?

Symptoms of Macular Degeneration include:

  • blurred vision
  • shadows or missing areas of vision
  • distorted vision
  • trouble discerning colors
  • slow recovery of visual function after exposure to bright light
  • a loss in contrast sensitivity

What to expect from Macular Degeneration?

Macular Degeneration damages the central vision of your eye, which is responsible for approximately 35% of your visual field. You may experience difficulty recognizing faces, reading and driving. Your peripheral vision is not damaged by Macular Degeneration, so you can still lead an independent life.

More information about Macular Degeneration

There is extensive information available about Macular Degeneration. The information included is intended to inform you about the basics of this eye condition, and is not intended as a replacement for information from your physician or eye specialist. Information regarding assistive devices that can help you if you have been diagnosed with Macular Degeneration is included. Our recommendations can be found under Tools and Resources.

Living with Macular Degeneration

Hearing that your sight is affected by Macular Degeneration may turn your world upside down. When the initial emotions subside, you may be comforted by the knowledge that you are not alone. There are many people in your situation, some that have also just been diagnosed and some that have been living with Macular Degeneration for years. Below is a story of how Amy Bower has coped with Macular Degeneration and is able to lead a productive and independent life.

If you experience vision loss as a result of Macular Degeneration, there are low vision devices that can assist you with those tasks that you have difficulty with. These devices will assist you with various visual tasks and will help you in continuing to lead an independent and full life.


Testimonial

You don’t have to be old to develop Macular Degeneration. Amy Bower, PhD, found that out when she was 24 and attending graduate school at the University of Rhode Island. At that point in time, Bower was already committed to a career in oceanography. “At first I lost my night vision, but soon I started losing my central vision as well,” says Bower, now 41. While continuing her studies, she initially relied on a variety of vision aids, including eyeglasses with built-in magnifiers. But even as she began her position as a research scientist in physical oceanography at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Bower’s vision deteriorated.

She turned to the Optelec ClearView+ desktop video magnifier – a new product at the time. She now has one for work and one for use at home. “My work involves reading, analyzing graphics and publishing in professional journals,” says Bower, who is now tenured and is the senior female scientist in physical oceanography, a field concerned with the ocean’s role in climate as well as the physics of ocean currents. Her work also includes travel for weeks at a time to places like the Indian Ocean, Mediterranean Sea and the North Atlantic.

“We have lab benches and desks on board, and I take my ClearView unit along,” says Bower, whose intelligence and commitment to her chosen field has earned the respect of her colleagues. Could she accomplish her work without the ClearView unit? “I suppose I could hire readers, but a lot of what I do involves reading graphics, which you have to analyze yourself,” she notes. “Besides, I value my independence.”

Amy Bower, Massachusetts

Many people with Macular Degeneration continue to do the activities they always did. You may learn to use your peripheral vision more efficiently and will learn to rely on your other senses to help you through the day.

There is currently no cure for Macular Degeneration. For Dry Macular Degeneration there are certain treatments that can help slow down the progression. Discuss this with your eye care professional to see what your options are.

Tools and Resources for Macular Degeneration

There are many devices that can assist you in a variety of daily tasks if you have Macular Degeneration. Below is a short summary of some of these devices. For more information we suggest you browse through our product assortment or use our easy Help Me Choose assistant below to search and filter based on your wishes.

Aids for Macular Degeneration:

ClearView C 24 HD Speech

Is reading too tiresome for you? Are you looking for a stylish magnifier that reads your printed documents aloud?

Traveller HD

Would you like to read in multiple locations? Are you looking for a more natural and fluent reading experience?

MultiView HD (This product is not available anymore)

Are you looking for a space saving desktop video magnifier to see things around you? Use the MultiView HD and see at any distance.

Compact 7 HD

Are you looking for a magnifier to use at home, school or in the office? Do you wish to instantly start reading with the press of a button?

Help me choose

Don’t know what visual aid suits your eye condition the best? We help you to find the right product.

Information about how Macular Degeneration affects your sight. Browse the Optelec website to learn more about low vision aids.