Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is a group of diseases that affect the central area of the retina. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness and severe and irreversible vision loss in the developed world.

The retina is a thin tissue that lines the inside wall of the eye. The macula is a geographic area within the retina that is responsible for sharp central vision. In 10-15% of cases, bleeding can occur into the retina (Wet AMD), which can result in sudden central vision loss and scarring. Central vision loss may occur in the more common (85-90% of cases) “dry” type of macular degeneration, without bleeding, but usually occurs gradually. Dry AMD can lead to wet AMD at any stage or progress to advanced Dry AMD.

Risk Factors

• People over 50 years of age (prevalence increases with age).
• Family history.
• Ultraviolet light exposure.
• Smoking.
• Poor diet or lack of particular nutrients.
Treatment and Management

• Laser treatment (Wet AMD).
• Injectable medication (Wet AMD).
• Special dietary supplements may be recommended, to slow the progression of macular degeneration (Dry AMD).
• Magnification aids.
Prevention and Detection

• Good diet including leafy dark green vegetables.
• Do not smoke.
• Annual eye examinations.
• Your optometrist may give you a grid pattern (Amsler grid) for regular home monitoring, to detect any distortions or dim areas in your vision which may indicate progression of the disease. If changes occur you should see your optometrist.
• It is important to detect AMD at an early stage in order to take appropriate measures to treat (Wet AMD) or help prevent progression of Dry AMD to Wet AMD or advanced Dry AMD.
• Have your eyes examined by an optometrist every year or sooner with changes.