This sight-threatening condition affects 1 in 10 people over the age of 50.
Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is one of the leading causes of blindness and visual impairment in the over-50s age group.
There are two forms of AMD
1. Dry AMD; this causes the central vision to become dimmer and as the disease progresses, the central vision can become distorted. Dry AMD is the most common form of AMD and affects about 90% of people who have AMD. As we age, the cells of the macula at the back of the eye become thinner and less efficient and they lose Lutein, an important pigment essential to good eye-sight. AMD is an acceleration of the natural aging process at the back of the eye.
Dry AMD cannot be treated, but taking Lutein supplements, following a healthy diet and lifestyle, with plenty of exercise and using good UV protective sunglasses can stabilise the progression of the condition.
2. Wet AMD; This is where blood vessels behind the retina at the back of the eye, leak, causing central vision loss (think of leaky pipes behind a wall!). This causes a drop in oxygen supply to the cells in the macula and the body responds by producing new fragile blood vessels and scar tissue. This process will cause permanent vision loss to the central visual field. Unlike dry AMD, Wet AMD causes rapid vision loss and requires treatment. Wet AMD is thought to have strong genetic link, so if a family member has had wet AMD it is wise to take a good Lutein supplement, follow a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise. You don't develop Wet AMD suddenly. You will have had Dry AMD first though you may have not been aware of it.
Wet AMD is treated by a specialist ophthalmologist using either Laser therapy, or Anti-VegF injections which prevent the formation of scar tissue and promote better healing at the macula.
Know your Risks
Monitor your eyes. Ask your optometrists to give you an AMSLER GRID. Regularly checking each eye in turn using this handy little card, can help detect early signs of changes in your central vision.
Your optometrist is trained to detect early signs of AMD. Your optometrist will monitor your eyes for signs of AMD. This is a routine part of every eye examination. If your optometrist feels you are at risk from visual impairment from AMD, they will refer you to an Eye Doctor to have your eyes checked out further,