Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Degeneration of the Macula Anatomy

To better understand macular degeneration, it helps to understand the anatomy of the eye.

Oxygen-rich blood is supplied to the cells in the retina via the central retinal artery. The central retinal vein allows the blood to return to the heart. The retina is a thin structure that lines the back of the eye. It contains specialized cells, called rods and cones. These specialized cells sense color, and distinguish light from dark. This information is sent to the brain via the optic nerve.

Other structures of the eye include:

  • Bony orbit and extraocular muscles:
    • The bone around the eye that protects it and the muscles that move the eyeball in the socket
  • Conjunctiva:
    • The thin, clear membrane that covers the white part of the eye, as well as the inside surface of the eyelids
  • Sclera:
    • The strong, white, outer layer of the globe
  • Cornea:
    • The clear, firm cap that protects the pupil and the iris
  • Pupil:
    • The opening that allows light to pass to the lens
  • Iris:
    • The colored part of the eye that controls the size of the pupil
  • Lens of the eye:
    • The clear, soft disc that receives light through the pupil and focuses images on the retina
  • Ciliary body:
    • Contains muscles that control the shape of the lens.
  • Vitreous:
    • The clear gel inside the globe that helps to maintain the shape of the eye
  • Choroid:
    • The thin layer that contains blood vessels that supply the parts of the eye
  • Retina:
    • The retina is to the eye what film is to a camera. It is a thin membrane in the back of the eye that contains the rod and cone cells for vision. After receiving light, the retina sends messages to the brain though the optic nerve. This information is processed into images by the brain.

Last Updated: Dec 20, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Degeneration of the Macula References
  1. Chakravarthy U, Stevenson M. Self-reported visual functioning and quality of life in age-related macular degeneration. Curr Opin Ophthalmol. 2005 Jun;16(3):179-83. [15870576]
  2. DeBlack SS. Cigarette smoking as a risk factor for cataract and age-related macular degeneration: a review of the literature. Optometry. 2003 Feb;74(2):99-110. [12585737]
  3. Liu M, Regillo CD. A review of treatments for macular degeneration: a synopsis of currently approved treatments and ongoing clinical trials. Curr Opin Ophthalmol. 2004 Jun;15(3):221-6. [15118509]
  4. Smith BT, Belani S, Ho AC. Light energy, cataract surgery, and progression of age-related macular degeneration. Curr Opin Ophthalmol. 2005 Jun;16(3):166-9. [15870573]
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