AMD - AGE RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION

The macula is an area at the back of your eye that you use for seeing fine detail such as reading a book.

Macular degeneration (MD) affect your ability to do certain tasks such as reading and watching television, but do not affect your ability to walk around as your side vision is not affected.

One of the most common symptoms of MD is noticing that straight lines appear wavy or that there are patches missing from your vision.

You may not notice this if it happens in one eye as your other eye will compensate, so it is important to regularly check your vision in each eye separately. You can do this by looking with each eye separately at the straight lines on a door frame or Venetian blind. If you notice the lines are distorted or there are missing patches, you should see your optometrist straight away.

 

What is macular degeneration?

Macular degeneration (MD) happens when the macula at the back of your eye becomes damaged. This can make it harder to see fine detail, such as recognising faces, or to read or watch television. However, this does not normally affect your ability to walk around as the edge of your vision should not be affected.

 

Does it cause blindness?

MD is the leading cause of blindness in the UK. However, most people with MD still have their peripheral (side) vision and so can see well enough to get around. However, they may not be able to see well enough to read without strong magnification.


Does it happen more as you get older?

The most common forms of MD happen more as you get older and are known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Around one in 10 people aged 65 or over show some signs of AMD. Some younger people may have MD caused by a genetic condition but this is less common than AMD.

 

What are the symptoms of AMD?

Some people simply notice that things appear blurry or they have difficulty reading, even with their normal reading glasses. Other people may notice that they have a smudge in their central vision which does not go away, or they may notice that straight lines are distorted or wavy. Some people with AMD may notice that they become sensitive to bright light, or that they find it difficult to adapt when going from a dark to a light environment. Some people notice that colours can fade. These symptoms are more noticeable if you look for them with each eye separately, because if you have both eyes open then the better eye may compensate for the other one. We recommend you check your vision in each eye separately on a regular basis by looking at some detail, such as a book or magazine and covering each eye in turn. This will help you notice any changes in your vision early.

 

Can I do anything to protect myself from getting AMD?

Smoking is known as a major risk factor for developing AMD so if you smoke, try to stop. It is also believed that having a diet that is rich in coloured fruit and vegetables (for example, kale, spinach, celery and broccoli) may reduce your risk of developing AMD. A link has been found between obesity and AMD so you should try to maintain a healthy weight. Other factors that increase your risk of developing AMD include having a family history of the condition. It is slightly more common in women than men. It is possible that exposure to ultraviolet light may be linked to AMD so we recommend that you wear UV-absorbing glasses when you are going to be outside for long periods.

The exact cause of AMD is not yet known, so you may develop it even if you don’t have any of these risk factors. There are lots of dietary supplements on the market which claim to be beneficial for eye health. They may be helpful for some people.

 

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