What is Foveola?
The foveola is a small area inside the back layer of the eye, known as the retina. Although the foveola is a tiny spot that’s less than a millimeter wide, it plays a huge role in clear vision. It is responsible for most of our visual acuity, which allows us to see small details like letters and highway signs when driving. The foveola also contains the highest amount of cone photoreceptors, which lets us see colors. If the foveola of the eye is damaged, it can significantly affect someone’s ability to see clearly. Eye problems, such as macular degeneration, can damage the foveola and create a ‘blind spot’ in the center of the vision. Injuries to the foveola are typically irreversible.
- The foveola is a small zone in the eye responsible for sharp central vision, such as reading and driving. It also allows us to see colors.
- The foveola is located in the macula region of the retina, the back layer of the eye which senses light.
- The foveola is able to provide detailed, sharp vision because it has a high amount of cone photoreceptors.
The foveola is a very small area inside of the retina, the layer in the back of the eye which senses light. The foveola is only 0.35 millimeters wide, but it provides most of the eye’s central vision. It is able to provide the eyes with high quality, detailed vision because it has a high density of cone photoreceptors. Cone photoreceptors function in bright light and are capable of color vision and detailed vision. Without the foveola, we would only be able to see the world in black, white, and gray shades. If the foveola is damaged, it causes a hole in the central vision known as a ‘blind spot’ or scotoma. Damage to the foveola is usually permanent, because cone photoreceptors cannot regenerate once they are injured.
Role Of Foveola
There are two types of photoreceptors in the eye which sense light: cones and rods. Cones turn on in bright light to sense colors and sharp details, such as letters. Rods allow us to see in the dark and help us detect motion. The foveola is a special part of the retina because it only has cones. There are no rod photoreceptors in the foveola. Thus, the foveola is the most specialized zone in the eye for seeing detailed, sharp vision and colors.
What Happens When The Foveola Is Damaged?
When the foveola is injured, it affects the eye’s ability to see clearly. The central part of the vision may develop a ‘blind spot’ which looks like a black hole obscuring the vision. The vision may become distorted, which is known as metamorphopsia. For example, straight lines might look wavy. If you notice blurry vision, distorted vision, or a ‘blind spot’ blocking the vision, it’s important to contact your eye doctor to make sure the fovea is not affected.
If the eye doctor determines that the foveola is permanently damaged, there are solutions that can help improve the vision, although the eye’s visual function will never be fully normal again. One option they may suggest is getting a low vision exam, in which a specialized eye doctor will show you visual devices such as magnifying glasses, video magnifiers, or screen readers. They may also teach you a technique used by people with central vision loss known as ‘eccentric viewing’. In eccentric viewing, a person looks slightly away from an object in order to see it using their peripheral vision.
What Conditions Damage the Foveola?
Examples of conditions that may damage the foveola include:
- Macular degeneration
This eye condition occurs to people over the age of 50. It happens when the eye cannot recycle its waste products, so there’s a buildup of toxic cells. These toxic cells eventually can cause bleeding underneath the macula, which makes the vision poor. Macular degeneration is more likely in people who smoke cigarettes and have a family history of the disease.
- Laser beam injury
Although rare, laser injuries are becoming more common because lasers can now easily be purchased on the internet. Laser beams that are 5 milliwatts or more can cause damage to the retina in the eye. Laser beams can disrupt the normal architecture of the foveola and cause a ‘blind spot’.
- Macular hole
A hole may develop in the macula spontaneously with older age. This can affect the foveola and cause a central blind spot or distorted vision.
- Diabetic retinopathy
When diabetes is poorly controlled, it may cause swelling in the back of the eye. This can make the vision blurry and cause fluid to enter under the foveola.