Your macula is located towards the back of your eye and is situated in the center of the light-sensitive tissue known as the retina. It plays a very important part in providing you with the sharp and central vision that you need in order to carry out tasks like reading, driving, and seeing fine details.

There there are a couple of different conditions that can affect the macula and make it hard for you to see, one of which is called a macular hole.

macular holeWhat is a Macular Hole?

Often an age related problem, a macular hole is a small break in the macula of the eye and is typically noticed when focusing on small details.

  • Most common in individuals over the age of 60, macular holes can cause blurred or distorted central vision.

Macular holes occur in three stages: foveal detachments, partial-thickness holes, and full-thickness holes. The size of a macular hole and its specific location will determine the impact it has on your vision.

If not treated properly, a macular hole can lead to a detached retina, which can cause loss of sight. Luckily, the treatment for a macular hole is straightforward when caught early on.

What are the Causes of a Macular Hole?

The inside of your eyes are filled with vitreous, a gel-like substance that fills up about 80 percent of the eye, giving it a round shape. Within the vitreous, there are millions of tiny, fine fibers that are attached directly to the retina’s surface.

As you age, the vitreous in your eyes can start to shrink, causing the fibers within it to pull away from the retina and detach. In most cases, this won’t cause any problems, but in some cases a macular hole can occur.

  • A macular hole forms when the vitreous that is attached to the retina pulls away from it while some of the fibers that were located in the vitreous stay behind on the surface of the retina.
  • When these fibers remain, they often contract, leading to the development of a macular hole.

When a macular hole occurs, fluid is able seep into the macula through it. This causes blurring and distortion in your central vision, and can also lead to more serious conditions like high myopia and retinal detachment. A macular pucker can also form.

Common Symptoms of a Macular Hole

If you ever experience a macular hole, you probably won’t notice a big change in your vision right away.

  • During Stage I, you might experience some slight distortion when using your eye, especially when you are looking straight ahead.
  • You might also notice that straight lines look bent to you.

With time, a macular hole can make reading, driving, and carrying out other basic tasks decidedly more difficult.

Detection of a Macular Hole by an Ophthalmologist

To detect a macular hole, you will need to take a trip to the ophthalmologist and have your eye dilated with drops.

Once the drops are placed in your eyes, our ophthalmologists in Buffalo can use an optical coherence tomography to scan the back of your eye and take photographs of it. These photos will help to determine the severity of your condition by detecting the presence of a macular hole.

Typical Treatment of a Macular Hole

If your ophthalmologist determines that you do, in fact, have a macular hole, there are several different macular hole treatment options available.

Some macular holes will close on their own; requiring no treatment. Other macular holes will require you to undergo surgery on your affected eye to improve your vision.

  • During the surgery performed to treat a macular hole, the vitreous gel from your eye will be removed and replaced with a bubble that contains air and gas. This bubble is used as an internal bandage, keeping the edge of your macular hole in place so that it can heal properly.
  • Following surgery, you will need to go home and remain in a face-down position for several days so that the bubble can press down on your macula, helping to seal the macular hole shut.
  • Over time, the bubble will be absorbed by your eye, allowing it to fill with natural fluid again.

This macular hole treatment can be very effective and can help to restore vision in an eye affected by a macular hole. But because it can be difficult to remain in a face-down position for an extended period of time, it’s not for everyone.

At Ophthalmology Associates of Western New York, we can take a look at your eyes for signs of a macular hole and, if we find one, we can recommend the best macular hole treatment for your specific situation.

To schedule a consultation with us or to ask any questions you might have about macular holes, give us a call at 716-632-3545 today.