www.diabeticretinopathy.org.uk

  

Understanding poor sight and retinal damage

David Kinshuck, Jayne Kempster, & Bruce Fisher.

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Sister site low vision section
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What is the retina?

Thinking of a camera can help you understand macular or retinal damage.

A camera lens focuses a picture onto a film inside the camera. In our eyes the same thing happens, but the film is replaced by the retina. The retina 'makes' the pictures of the world that we see, converting the light into electrical signals that are then sent on to the brain.

More details.

the eye is like a camera..the retina is the 'film'

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Macula

The macula is the most sensitive part of the retina. It makes out the fine details of the things we look at, peoples' faces, bus numbers, reading and writing, and the letters on an optometrists chart.

If the macula is damaged all these things you see in fine detail are misty. The picture is still there but you cannot make out any of the detail.

A healthy retina will produce a clear image, like a normal film in a camera.

the macula...the area of central vision
The macula is the central area of the retina, shown by the grey blob, in this picture. This is the view a doctor sees looking into your eye from in front, like looking into the lens of a camera and seeing the film

But in macular damage the image will not be clear.

For example if the film was scratched in the middle, the 'scratch' would show up in the middle of the photograph like a black mark or blot of ink. This is similar to damage caused by macular disease such as diabetic maculopathy.

Sadly, the damage cannot be repaired. See Maculopathy.

Because the detail in pictures is lost by damage to the macula, no amount of change to your glasses can restore this detail.

So people with diabetic maculopathy find it difficult to read, write and or recognise faces. (This is the same with other types of disease affecting the macula.)

 

Understanding macular damage

But in macular damage the image will not be clear.

For example if the film was scratched in the middle, the 'scratch' would show up in the middle of the photograph like a black mark or blot of ink. This is similar to damage caused by macular disease such as diabetic maculopathy.

macula damage and patchy central vision

here there is macular damage with loss of central vision
 

Significant macular damage makes it very difficult to read, and expert help is needed, see. Life is much easier if you have one good eye.

 

Driving and distance vision problems

Driving in more detail.

Damage may be confined to the macula as above, or may be patchy, involving central vision. This depends on which part of the retina is affected, here there is damage to the macula and adjacent retina.

macular damage

patchy central vision

 

If there is a lot of laser for new vessels, side vision is reduced.

This is mainly noticed at night.

It can make driving at night dangerous. See Driving in more detail.

damaged peripheral retina

loss of peripheral vision

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