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About macular disease

The macula is part of the retina at the back of the eye. It is only about 5mm across but is responsible for our central vision, most of our colour vision and the fine detail of what we see..

What is the macula?

About macular disease

The macula is part of the retina at the back of the eye. It is only about 5mm across, but is responsible for our central vision, most of our colour vision and the fine detail of what we see. The macula has a very high concentration of photoreceptor cells – the cells that detect light. They send signals to the brain, which interprets them as images. The rest of the retina processes our peripheral, or side vision.

Macular conditions

About macular disease

Nearly 1.5m people in the UK have macular disease. It affects people of all ages. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common condition, generally affecting people over the age of 55.

Age-related macular degeneration

Macular conditions

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) usually affects people over 50 but can happen earlier. Macular disease is the biggest cause of sight loss in the UK, with AMD affecting around 600,000 people.

Dry age-related macular degeneration

Macular conditions

Dry AMD is a slow deterioration of the cells of the macula, often over many years, as the retinal cells die off and are not renewed. The term ‘dry’ does not mean the person has dry eyes, just that the condition is not wet AMD.

Wet age-related macular degeneration

Macular conditions

Wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) develops when abnormal blood vessels grow into the macula. These leak blood or fluid which leads to scarring of the macula and rapid loss of central vision. Wet AMD can develop very suddenly, but it can now be treated if caught quickly. Fast referral to a hospital specialist is essential.

Early AMD

Macular conditions

All parts of the body change as we age and it's normal to see differences in the way the retina looks in older people. There may be changes to the colour of the retina, and tiny, fatty deposits called drusen may appear.

Retinal vein occlusion (RVO)

Macular conditions

Retinal vein occlusion is a blockage of a retinal vein. It is a common cause of sudden painless reduction in vision in people over 60. The blockage of a vein causes blood and other fluids to leak into the retina, which causes damage that reduces vision.

Macular hole

Macular conditions

The retina is a light-sensitive layer of tissue lining the back of the eye. The macula is a small area at the centre of the retina responsible for all of our central vision, most of our colour vision, and the fine detail we see.

Myopic macular degeneration

Macular conditions

Myopia, pathological myopia and myopic macular degeneration

Myopic macular degeneration is a type of macular degeneration that occurs in people with severe myopia.

Stargardt disease

Macular conditions

Stargardt disease is a genetic condition caused by a tiny alteration in a single gene. It is also known as fundus flavimaculatus and is the most common form of macular dystrophy.

Bestrophinopathies

Macular conditions

This is a group of five related macular conditions caused by mistakes or mutations in a gene called BEST1.

Cone dystrophy

Macular conditions

The light-sensing cells in the retina come in two main kinds: rods and cones. Rods are extremely sensitive and work better in dim light, whereas cones are more effective in bright light. Cones give us our colour vision and although they exist across the retina, they are densely clustered around the macula.

Doyne honeycomb dystrophy

Macular conditions

Most cases of Doyne honeycomb dystrophy are caused by a mutation or mistake on a single gene called EFEMP1. This causes the gene to ‘fold’ a protein wrongly, and stops it breaking down as it should. The protein then builds up to create ‘drusen’ inside the eye tissue and stops nutrients getting from blood vessels to the light-sensing cells that need them. As the cells waste and die, sight is lost.

Sorsby fundus dystrophy

Macular conditions

Sorsby fundus dystrophy causes similar symptoms to age-related macular degeneration (AMD), although it generally affects people at a younger age.

Pattern dystrophy

Macular conditions

Pattern dystrophy is the umbrella term for a group of retinal conditions. All of them cause a build-up of waste material called lipofuscin, which causes damage to tissue in the eye.

Bull’s eye maculopathy

Macular conditions

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. It can appear at any age, and cause mild or more severe sight loss.

Pseudoxanthoma elasticum (PXE)

Macular conditions

Pseudoxanthoma elasticum or PXE (pronounced ‘pixie’) is a disease affecting many parts of the body. It causes calcium and other minerals to build up in various body tissues, especially those which are usually elastic, such as the skin on the neck, armpits and knees. Affected skin develops a yellow, waxy, ‘cobblestone’ appearance and forms loose folds.

Macular oedema

Macular conditions

What is the macular?

The macula is the central bit of the retina (the tissue at the back of the eye which senses light). The macula is about 5mm across. It is responsible for our central vision, our colour vision and the fine detail of what we see.