Bull’s eye maculopathy is a condition where damage occurs to cells in your macula, which is part of your retina. It appears as light-colored rings around a dark center, like a target or bull’s eye. This eye disease can cause mild or severe vision loss, including color blindness and night blindness.
Bull’s eye maculopathy is a rare condition that causes degeneration (deterioration) of your macula. The macula is part of your retina, which is the layer of tissue at the back of your eye. The degeneration appears as discolored rings on your macula, like a target or bull’s eye pattern. Bull’s eye maculopathy can cause permanent vision loss.
You can inherit bull’s eye maculopathy (your biological parents passed it down to you). You can also develop it as a complication of other eye diseases or long-term use of certain medications. When people inherit bull’s eye maculopathy, healthcare providers might call it benign concentric annular macular dystrophy (BCAMD).
While any type of vision loss is scary, your healthcare provider can get to the root of the issue. They’ll provide you with treatments and support to help you cope.
Bull’s eye maculopathy damages the cells that help you see. So, it can lead to varying degrees of central vision loss. Some people have trouble seeing detail or color. It might be hard to see at night. Central vision loss can make it hard to read, drive and see things in front of you. The disease can affect one or both eyes.
Most people with bull’s eye maculopathy don’t have an issue with their peripheral vision (what you see out of the outer corners of your eyes). But it’s usually progressive, meaning it can get worse over time.
A risk factor is something that increases your risk of developing a condition. Risk factors for bull’s eye maculopathy include:
Bull’s eye maculopathy is rare. It affects fewer than 1,000 people in the U.S.
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Bull’s eye maculopathy has several possible causes, including:
Experts aren’t sure exactly how hydroxychloroquine causes bull’s eye maculopathy. Research suggests that the drug binds to cells in your retina and may affect how they work.
Symptoms of bull’s eye maculopathy may include:
You can’t see bull’s eye maculopathy with the naked eye, so you won’t notice it if you look at your eyes in a mirror. An eye care specialist uses a tool called an ophthalmoscope to see your macula and retina.
The bull’s eye pattern usually appears as a round, dark area surrounded by lighter rings. The round, dark area in the center represents the normal retina. The rings are abnormal. The rings might be pale shades of orange, pink or purple. The different colors are the result of macular damage or degeneration.
Your healthcare provider may do a range of eye exams to diagnose bull’s eye maculopathy, including:
There isn’t a cure for bull’s eye maculopathy.
There aren’t treatments to reverse vision loss from bull’s eye maculopathy. If the condition results from drug or iron toxicity, stopping the drug or managing iron levels may prevent disease progression.
Most treatments focus on helping people cope with vision loss and color blindness. Your provider may recommend:
There’s no way to prevent bull’s eye maculopathy.
Vision loss from bull’s eye maculopathy is usually permanent and may be progressive. You might be able to stop toxicity-related macular damage from progressing further by avoiding the toxin.
There are a few questions you may want to ask your healthcare provider if you have bull’s eye maculopathy:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Bull’s eye maculopathy is rare. If you’re noticing vision loss, it’s unlikely that this disease is the culprit. But you should never let problems with your eyesight go unchecked. Even though vision loss can be scary and stressful, there are ways to cope. Your healthcare provider can connect you to the vision aids, support services and treatments you need to manage the condition. If you’re having trouble seeing or noticing any changes in your vision, talk to your healthcare provider right away. Depending on the cause of vision loss, early treatment may be able to slow, stop or even reverse eyesight problems.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/23/2023.
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