Looking at a painting but only seeing the frame removes a person’s ability to appreciate and understand the artwork, and driving when someone can see the road and the trees on the side of it, but not the car on it, is very dangerous indeed. In both situations, the person doesn’t get the full picture of what they are looking at, and if they’re myopic, this could be the result of Myopic Macular Degeneration (MMD), says Gary Rodney, Australian fellow of the International Academy of Orthokeratology and Myopia Control (FIAOMC).
Rodney says this degeneration can occur in people who are even mildly short-sighted when there’s unnatural and extreme elongation of the eyeball, the extent of which governs the level of degeneration. However, it is far more likely to happen to those with high levels of this refractive eye disorder. Extreme stretching of the retina can result in tears in either the retina or in the macula, the sharpest sight area and controller of a person’s ability to see straight ahead of them. It can also lead to detachment from the retina.
Small Area Takes a Big Role in Straight Sight
Sometimes also known as the yellow spot, the macula is a small area situated near the centre of the retina. This 5mm spot is the part that receives the light rays which carry information about what a person is seeing through their eyes, for transfer to the brain in the form of electrical signals for processing into a “picture” and understanding of what is seen.
Rodney says that if the macula is torn or becomes detached from the retina, central sight can be affected considerably, and eventually may be lost almost completely. Fortunately, peripheral sight, which controls how much is seen on the boundaries, remains undamaged which is why the full image of the picture frame can still be seen (but not the image inside it).
The Progression of MMD
According to Rodney, Myopic Macular Degeneration, also known as Myopic Maculopathy, carries similar symptoms to those of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), including sensitivity to light, distortion of straight lines, light flashes, floaters and headaches, as well as having difficultly reading or seeing faces.
But where he says it does differ is that unlike AMD it can in some cases degenerate very quickly. However, more commonly it follows AMD’s pattern in taking up to 10 years to fully develop to a level classed as legal blindness, with care and treatment in the form of injections or laser procedures.
MMD also doesn’t necessarily wait to strike vision, usually starting degeneration at a younger age than the 55+ age group most likely to fall prey to AMD, and when high myopia (over -6.00 D) is involved, it can even start as early as childhood.
For more information visit the Smart Vision website: Optometrists Sydney: Optometry Services For Children and Adults | Smart Vision; for specific information about Myopia treatment and prevention visit Myopia Prevention: Solutions, Control And Treatment In Sydney; and for detailed information about Myopia Treatment visit Orthokeratology In Sydney: The Non Surgical Alternative.
To book an appointment for a thorough eye check-up, click here or Call the Bondi clinic on (02) 9365 5047 or the Mosman clinic on (02) 9969 1600.