What Are the Three Stages of Macular Holes?

The eye is largely made up of the cornea, lens, iris and retina. The retina lies along the back of the eye and is responsible for producing an image to send to the brain. The macula is the central part of the retina. The macula is the only part of the retina that is capable of sharp, detailed vision for tasks such as reading, driving and watching TV. 

A macular hole is a disruption of the center of the macula. The interior of the eye is filled with a jelly-like substance called vitreous. As humans age, this jelly begins to shrink and travel towards the front of the eye. Deterioration of this jelly causes it to pull on the macula. In most cases, the vitreous separates without any negative side effects, However, in some cases where the vitreous is firmly attached to the central area of the retina, this pulling away may form a small macular hole.

The three stages of macular holes are:

Stage 1: Foveal Detachment – Without macular hole treatment, about 50% of stage I macular holes will progress.

Stage 2: Partial-Thickness Hole – Without treatment, about 70% of stage II macular holes will progress.

Stage 3: Full-Thickness Hole – When a macular hole develops to this stage, most central and detailed vision can be lost. A macular hole can lead to a detached retina, a sight-threatening condition that should receive immediate medical attention.

In the initial stages, a macular hole can cause blurred and distorted vision. Straight lines may look wavy or bowed, and you may have trouble reading small print. After a while, you may see a small black patch or a “missing patch” in the center of your vision. 

Surgery is usually needed to repair a macular hole. There’s evidence that relatively prompt treatment (within months) gives a better outcome in terms of vision improvement. If you have a macular hole and you don’t seek help, your central vision will probably get gradually worse.

If you have blurred or distorted vision, or there’s a black spot in the center of your vision, schedule an eye exam right away. Contact Associated Retina Consultants in Phoenix at 602-242-4928 or website today.

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