Bull’s eye maculopathy

Bull’s eye maculopathy describes a number of different conditions in which there is a ring of pale-looking damage around a darker area of the macula. The macula can often appear to have circular bands of different shades of pink and orange. Age of onset and severity of sight loss varies, and it can be inherited in many ways.

Bull’s eye maculopathy is a rare dystrophy, also known as benign concentric annular macular dystrophy (BCAMD). It causes a dartboard, or ring-shaped, pattern of damage around the macula. This characteristic damage can also be caused by other inherited retinal conditions, or by long-term use of drugs which suppress the immune system as part of treatment for lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

How is it inherited?

When caused by a macular dystrophy, it appears to be an autosomal dominant condition, which means that any child of a person affected has a 50 per cent chance of inheriting it too.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms vary between those people affected, even in the same family, but might include partial colour-blindness, loss of fine detail, blurring or distortion, and night blindness. Many people find that their vision stays stable for several years, but for a minority the damage extends outwards from the original ring to affect the wider vision.

Treatments and research

This dystrophy is so uncommon, and so hard to tell apart from several other dystrophies, that research is at a very early stage. More research is needed on affected families to help us understand what mutations are responsible and how the symptoms might be treated.