Also known as AMD (aged Macular degeneration) or ARMD (aged-related Macular Degeneration)
What is a AMD?
AMD accounts for about 50% of all visual impairment in the developed world and generally affects people over the age of 50.
It is an eye condition that affects a tiny part of the retina at the back of your eye which contains millions of light sensing cells called photoreceptors. These receptors are concentrated in the centre of the retina, the Macula which is about the size of a pinhead and is responsible for the fine detailed vision we need in order to be able to read.
Macular degeneration occurs when there is damage to these light sensing cells which then causes problems with your central vision. It is not painful.
Symptoms you may notice
You may notice difficulty reading small print
Seeing photographs clearly
You may notice a slight smudge in the centre of your vision
Straight lines may look distorted
Judging distance and height becomes difficult
There are two types of Age Related Macular Degeneration:
Dry AMD & Wet AMD.
Wet AMD produces new blood vessels that leak and cause build up of fluid.
Dry AMD does not produce new vessels.
Neither wet or dry AMD affect your peripheral vision, so never leads to total blindness.
This is the common form of AMD and it develops slowly, causing gradual changes in your central vision. Initially only one eye might be affected and symptoms may be difficult to recognise as your second eye compensates for the first. It takes a long time to get to its final stage. Dry AMD causes a blank patch in the central vision.
There is currently no treatment available to reverse Dry Amd, however there are lifestyle changes, including stopping smoking, which may help.
Diet and Nutrition
There’s some evidence that a diet rich in vitamins A , C and E – as well as substances called Lutein and Zeaxanthin – may slow the progression of dry AMD, and possibly even reduce your risk of getting wet AMD.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are not made within the body and can only be obtained from what we eat.
Foods high in vitamins A, C and E include: Oranges, kiwis, leafy green vegetables, tomatoes, carrots
Lutein sources: Spinach, kale, peas, mangoes, sweetcorn
For a more comprehensive food list visit www.macular.org
There’s no definitive proof that eating these foods will be effective for everyone with dry AMD, but this type of healthy diet has other important health benefits.
Dietary supplements are also available ,some of which claim to specifically improve eye health. Check with your GP before taking supplements as they may not be suitable for everyone.
Wet AMD develops very quickly and affects to your vision in a short period of time. Treatment is available and needs to be given quickly before the new blood vessels cause damage to your macula. If the blood vessels are left to grow, the scarring and sight loss is usually permanent.
The goal of treatment is to prevent further loss of vision and possibly improvement in your vision. Lucentis, Avastin and Eylea are medicines given by injection into the eye to slow or stop the growth of abnormal blood vessels and leakage.
The eye is numbed and the medication is injected. The procedure is repeated once a month for 3 months and later as necessary. Your surgeon will tell you how often you will need treatment. It is not usually painful, but you may feel a bit queasy afterwards.