Common Vision Problems

Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is a condition in which the macula (the part of the retina responsible for sharp reading vision) fails to function efficiently. It is a common cause of impaired reading or detailed vision—the leading cause of blindness worldwide, in fact. Macular degeneration is generally age-related.

Symptoms: Initial signs include blurred reading vision, a weakening of color vision, distortion or loss of central vision (e.g., a dark spot in the middle of your field of vision), and distortion in vertical lines.

Treatment: Although there is no cure, laser treatment can be effective in slowing the disease’s progression. As usual, early detection is key.

Prevention: Lifelong UV protection is very important. General nutrition is also believed to play a significant preventative role. Zinc may be especially helpful in this regard, particularly for zinc-deficient people like seniors. There is also some evidence to suggest that a diet high in beta carotene (vitamin A) and vitamins C and E can protect the macula. However, an over-abundance of any vitamin may affect your body’s ability to absorb important nutrients. This is a matter of some debate among health care professionals.


All content is provided for education and information, and is no substitute for the advice of your optometrist. This information is provided courtesy of the British Columbia Association of Optometrists (B.C.A.O.). The B.C.A.O. assumes no responsibility or liability arising from any errors or omissions or from the use of any information contained herein.