A macular hole is a small break, or hole, that occurs in the macula. The macula is the part of the eye responsible for sharp, central vision, so any damage to it can cause blurred vision. Even though a macular hole may sound like an injury, it’s actually related to aging and occurs in people over the age of 55. Some people are more at risk for developing these breaks, which we will discuss below. If you are in a higher risk group, seeing your eye doctor regularly is incredibly important.
What Causes a Macular Hole?
Macular holes are most common in women over the age of 55. In the majority of cases, the holes occur spontaneously, so it’s hard to tell if they are due to something specific. Once a macular hole occurs in one eye, a person is 5% to 15% more likely to develop one in the other eye.
Here’s a small anatomy less for you. The eye’s interior is filled with a gel substance called vitreous. The gel is filled with millions of small fibers that are attached to the retina’s surface. However, as we age, the vitreous slowly pulls away from the retina and fluid fills in the gaps. Generally speaking, this is a normal process and there are no side effects, aside from light floaters.
In some people, the fibers pull away and tear the retina, creating a macular hole. Sometimes, some of the fibers stay attached to the retina and then contract, increasing tension. The fluid that settles into the gaps can leak into the macula, causing blurriness and distorted vision.
Are Certain People More at Risk?
Macular holes are largely spontaneous, but they are more common in some people. If any of the following conditions apply to you, it’s possible that you could be a greater risk for macular holes.
-High myopia (nearsightedness)
-Certain injuries or trauma to the eye
-Diabetic eye disease
-Retinal tear or detachment
-Eye inflammation (uveitis)
-Macular pucker (type of scar tissue over the macula)
-Normal aging process – vitreous shrinks and pulls away
Most people with a macular hole notice blurriness or distortion in their vision. This can be due to various factors, so it’s important to see your eye doctor to rule out other potential causes. If it turns out that you do have a macular hole, it may seal up on its own and nothing further will be needed. In other cases, retinal surgery may be required.
Whether you’re looking for a second opinion or are concerned that you have something wrong with your macula, contact Empire Retina. We are retinal experts and we can give you an accurate diagnosis along with your treatment options.