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How is Myopic Macular Degeneration Diagnosed?

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | December 2018

While myopic macular degeneration (MMD) is related to myopia, it’s not the same as general myopia – only individuals with high myopia have significant risk of developing myopic macular degeneration. MMD can occur at any age, and early diagnosis is important so timely treatment can be provided. Also called degenerative myopia, this condition is caused by gradual and progressive stretching and damage to the retina and choroid as the eyewall elongates.1 There is no cure for the condition, but complications can be treated, making early diagnosis important.

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Signs of MMD

MMD mostly occurs in patients with severe nearsightedness, or high myopia. Severe nearsightedness (usually more than minus 6.00 diopters) is one characteristic, but there are a variety of other abnormalities that your doctor might look for. These can include2:

  • Retinal and Retinal Pigment Epithelial (RPE) Atrophy: Parts of your retina or the support cells of your retina might become very thin and die, leading to loss of vision in this area.
  • Lattice Degeneration: This occurs when the far edges of your retina start to experience thinning and exhibit “stretch marks."
  • Lacquer Cracks: There is a thin membrane between the retina and the underlying blood supply called Bruch's membrane; lacquer cracks are breaks in this membrane.
  • Choroidal Neovascularization (CNV): The growth of leaky blood vessels underneath the retina, often through the lacquer cracks, or where the retina has atrophied.

MMD Diagnosis

Myopia, or nearsightedness, is diagnosed when light entering the eye is focused too soon before hitting the retina, therefore objects that are far away look blurry. This usually occurs because the eyeball is too long, but may also be due to a cornea that is more curved than it should be or a lens that is stronger than it should be.3

What can you do?

If you’ve noticed any symptoms of MMD or have had trouble focusing on objects that are far away, see your eye doctor immediately. Through a general eye exam, she will be able to see what might be going on with your eye and how best to address your symptoms. Though MMD cannot be cured, addressing the symptoms can help you see better, and might help to slow or stop the progression of the condition.