Age Related Macular Degeneration – The Facts
Whether you have heard of it or not, age-related macular degeneration accounts for almost 50% of those registered as visually impaired in the UK.
What exactly is Macular Degeneration?
The macula is an area at the back of your eye that you use for seeing fine detail such as watching television or reading a book. It is a painless condition. Macular degeneration happens when the macula becomes damaged. The most common forms of macular degeneration happen more as you become older and are known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). There are two types: dry and wet.
Dry AMD This form characterises in a slow deterioration of vision and is the more common of the two conditions.
Wet AMD This tends to be more sudden in onset, sometimes with a dramatic decline in your central vision, usually in one eye.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms can vary according to the type and stage of AMD present. Many people do not experience symptoms in the early stages of dry AMD. Some people simply notice that things appear blurry or they have difficulty reading with their normal reading glasses. As the macula cells deteriorate, people may notice that straight lines appear distorted or wavy. People with AMD may notice that they become sensitive to bright light or they find it difficult to adapt when going from a dark to a light environment.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, arrange an appointment at your nearest Realeyes branch.
What are the causes?
Dry AMD is caused by a gradual breakdown of light sensitive cells in the macula. Wet AMD is caused when abnormal blood vessels begin to grow behind the macula and leak fluid or cause scarring. There are certain risk factors associated with macular degeneration:
- Age – most prominent in over 65’s.
- Family history
- Poor diet – lacking in anti-oxidants or high in saturated fats.
- Over exposure to UV light
- Obesity The exact cause is not yet known, so you may develop it even if you do not have any of these risk factors.
What is the treatment for AMD?
Although there is currently no treatment for dry AMD, our optometrists will be able to advise you on lifestyle adjustments to minimise further progression, such as taking specific nutritional supplements. Wet AMD can often be treated if it is caught early enough. At Realeyes, our optometrists routinely check for any changes in the macula and specific tests are carried out if macular degeneration is suspected or observed. If there are signs of macular degeneration, you may be referred to a hospital ophthalmologist for a full diagnosis.
Written by our in-house optometrist Shazia Kanani, who is based at our Wembley store.