Our macular is a critical part of the retina that allows us to function in daily life. It allows us to recognize faces and communicate with others, read bus numbers, identify items when grocery shopping and is essential for reading and writing.
Anatomically, the macular is located at the very back of the eye, internally, and has an elliptical shape horizontally. Its horizontal diameter measures approximately 5-6mm and is responsible for our central 15-18 degrees of visual field. Cone photoreceptor cells predominate at the macula and besides allowing us to see fine detail, their unique spectral sensitivities also allow us to perceive colour differences and subtle contrast variations.
When our macula is damaged we therefore lose our central vision. People with macular conditions will often first experience troubles reading, including a loss of the letters or words on a page, or perhaps distortion of text, such that words appear jumbled into one another.
An easy way to check on the health of your macula, is to regularly test your central vision in each eye independently, closely observing for any distortion of your central visual field or any missing areas. An Amsler grid chart is a simple and accurate way of performing this test.