Human eye cross-sectional view. Courtesy NIH National Eye Institute

The macula is the central part of the retina of the eye that is the most sensitive of all photoreceptors. It is the macula that enables us to make out fine detail, to focus on an object and to read.

Whereas loss of peripheral vision may go unnoticed for some time, damage to the macula will result in loss of central vision, which is usually immediately obvious.

There has been a significant increase in the number of reported cases of macular degeneration, and there is some new evidence that this is linked to the increase in consumption of certain oilseed vegetable oils. The mechanism by which this link operates is not yet understood.