Myopic macular degeneration (MMD) is a serious eye condition that can lead to vision loss.
Also known as “pathological myopia” and “degenerative myopia”, it most often develops in people with high myopia.
Nearsighted people can see near objects but may have trouble seeing more distant objects. We sometimes talk about myopia.
MMD is notThis is not the same as being nearsighted and not being able to see distant objects clearly, which is called nearsightedness.
Instead, MMD means that there are degenerative changes occurring in your eye, and these changes may not be treated with glasses or contact lenses alone. In fact, it can lead to legal blindness if left untreated.
Read on to learn more about MMD, other vision problems it can present, and how to manage and treat this eye condition.
MMD occurs when your retina at the back of your eye slowly stretches over time. This causes the eyeball to evolve from a circular ball shape to a football shape. The retina thins as it stretches, and as it does, the part of the eye that allows you to see sharp detail in the center of your vision (the macula) also stretches and becomes damaged.
This leads to blurry and distorted vision in the central part of your vision, which increases the risk of developing a retinal tear or more serious eye problems.
While myopia itself is quite common, MMD is less common, as it affects approximately 3 percent of people in the world.
Researchers believe that MMD is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, although more studies are needed to determine specific root causes.
Still, there are some known risk factors for this condition:
- High degree myopia. Any prescription strength above -6.0 is considered high quality, and people with a prescription strength above -10.0 are at even higher risk.
- Family. High-grade myopia and MMD are often hereditary, and pathological myopia can sometimes be diagnosed in children.
- Ethnicity. MMD is more commonly seen in Asia. an older one research paper 2009 indicates that Chinese Americans are at higher risk of developing the disease and that people of Japanese ancestry are also at increased risk.
You may not notice any symptoms of MMD at first.
The disease progresses slowly and you may not notice any symptoms initially. When symptoms occur, they may include:
- distorted vision
- wavy lines in your vision
- progressive deterioration of vision
- empty spots in your vision
- difficulty adjusting to light
- difficulty seeing shades of color
- difficulty seeing in the dark
Since the disease usually occurs in people who already have high degree myopia, some symptoms may be difficult to distinguish from everyday visual difficulties.
It is important to see an eye doctor at least once a year for an eye exam and to contact a doctor if you have any concerns about your vision.
Although this condition is similar to age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in some ways, they are not identical.
Both conditions share many of the same symptoms and can cause vision loss. Both are linked to the progressive wear of your eyes‘ smudges.
But while AMD is linked to age as you get older, MMD is linked to genetics and high-grade myopia. It often starts at a much younger age than AMD, which is usually seen in people aged 65 and over.
Myopic macular degeneration can lead to multiple eye complications. Some of these complications are serious and require immediate treatment. Complications can include:
- Retinal atrophy. When your retina stretches as a result of myopic retinal degeneration, it can lead to thinning of your retina. Over time, this can cause your retina to atrophy or break down. Retinal atrophy can damage your vision.
- Detached retina. Stretching the retina can lead to retinal tearing and detachment. Symptoms of retinal detachment include sudden flashes of light in your eyes and seeing dark “floaters” in your vision.
- Lacquer cracks. Stretching can cause ruptures in your macula and in a layer of your eye called Bruch’s membrane. These cracks are called lacquer cracks.
- Choroidal neovascularization. Lacquer cracks and retinal atrophy leave open areas in the eye. Sometimes new, thin, fragile blood vessels grow in these spaces. This is known as choroidal neovascularization (CNV), and this can lead to scarring and loss of vision. As much as 10 percent of people with MMD develop this complication of CNV, and it is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States in people age 50 and older.
An annual eye exam can help you detect and treat any complications before they become an emergency.
There is no cure for this eye condition, but for those with no symptoms of vision loss, you may be able to wear glasses or contact lenses to treat nearsightedness. Either option can aid vision by refocusing how light hits your retina.
You may also need treatment for certain complications of MMD, including:
MMD usually cannot be treated with laser vision surgery.
ThisIt is important to have regular eye appointments if you have myopic macular degeneration. ThisIt’s also best to tell your eye care team about any changes in your vision as soon as possible.
Myopic macular degeneration is a severe form of nearsightedness, or nearsightedness, that gets worse over time.
This can lead to legal blindness and serious complications, such as retinal detachment and choroidal neovascularization.
There is no cure for MMD, but many people can use glasses and contacts to improve their vision, even if it doesn’t work.‘t addresses the underlying condition. Also, some complications of the disease can be treated if caught early.
ThisIt is very important to have regular eye appointments, especially if you have high degree myopia or myopic macular degeneration. Having regular appointments can help your doctor detect and treat any complications or eye health issues before they become serious.