The macula provides the sharp
central vision we need for
reading, driving, and seeing fine detail.

What is a Macular Hole?

A macular hole is a small break in the macula, which is located in the center of the eye's light-sensitive tissue called the retina. The macula provides the sharp central vision we need for reading, driving, and seeing fine detail. As you age, the vitreous gel that fills the eye shrinks and pulls away from the macula, usually with no negative impact on your sight. However, if the vitreous gel sticks to the macula and is unable to pull away, the macular tissue stretches. After several weeks or months of this stretching, the macula tears, creating a hole. The fluid that replaces the shrunken vitreous can then seep through the hole onto the macula, blurring and distorting central vision.

Macular holes can also result from injury to the eye, disorders such as high myopia (nearsightedness), macular pucker, and retinal detachment, and eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and Best's disease.

Stages of a Macular Hole

Foveal Detachment (Stage 1): Without treatment, about half of Stage 1 macular holes will progress to the next stage(s).

Partial-thickness Holes (Stage 2): Without treatment, about 70 percent of Stage 2 macular holes will progress to Stage 3.

Full-thickness Holes (Stage 3): When a hole reaches this stage, patients lose most central and detailed vision. If left untreated, the macular hole can lead to a detached retina, which threatens sight and requires immediate medical attention.

Is a Macular Hole the same as Age-related Macular Degeneration?

No. Although the symptoms are similar, macular holes and age-related macular degeneration are two separate and distinct conditions. Both conditions are common in people 60 and over. An eye care professional will be able to tell the difference.

Will I get a Macular Hole in my second eye?

If you have a macular hole in one eye, there is a 10-15 percent chance that a macular hole will develop in your other eye over your lifetime. Your doctor can discuss this with you.