What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)?
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a sight-threatening disease associated with ageing, which gradually destroys sharp central vision. AMD affects the photoreceptor cells in the macula, which is the central area of the retina, giving us our detailed vision (ie: ability to read, see faces, watch TV).
AMD is broadly classified into two main forms: Wet and Dry AMD.
Dry AMD shows changes in the pigment layer, as the light-sensitive cells in the macula slowly break down, gradually blurring central vision in the affected eye. Over time, as the macula becomes more affected, central vision capabilities diminish in the affected eye.
Wet AMD may include similar changes to the above description of Dry AMD. Furthermore, in wet AMD, abnormal blood vessels behind the retina start to grow under the macula. These new blood vessels tend to be very fragile and often leak fluid. This, in turn, will alter the position of the macula from its normal position at the rear of the eye. Damage to the macula occurs swiftly, leading to a more rapid loss of central vision.
Who is at risk?
AMD affects the ageing population and is a leading cause of vision loss in people 60 years of age and older. Other individuals at increased risk include:
Those with circulatory conditions, including high blood pressure
The overweight and obese
Those suffering from a poor diet – especially one that is deficient in carotenoid rich vegetables such as spinach, peas, tomatoes and curly kale.
How Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) affects our vision
Age-Related Macular Degeneration is not painful. At its earlier stages, central vision might become blurred or distorted. A feature of Wet AMD in particular, is that straight lines may also appear wavy or crooked. As AMD becomes more severe a blank patch or dark spot might appear in the central vision. This makes reading, writing and recognising small objects difficult.
AMD affects only the central retina, whilst the side (peripheral) vision remains efficient. The condition generally affects both eyes, although the rate of decline between each eye may vary considerably.
How Age related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is treated
Your Consultant Ophthalmologist will undertake a careful investigation of both eyes, using eye drops to dilate the pupils. Detailed tests are used to image the macula, and may include photography and retinal scans.
Dry AMD: In many cases the changes in sight will be mild and patients retain useful central vision for many years. Treatment for patients with Dry AMD is therefore largely supportive and aimed at helping those affected to maximise their central vision through the provision of spectacles and magnifiers.
Wet AMD: Treatment is by a course of intravitreal anti-VEGF agents (ie: Lucentis, Avastin or Eylea) which stop abnormal blood vessels growing and leaking. In many cases vision can be stabilized and even improved. The procedure involves anaesthetic drops on the surface of the eye to make it numb, and then a tiny injection of the drug is given into the eyeball using a very fine needle. Although this does not sound at all pleasant, infact patients find the procedure quite comfortable. The thought of the procedure is worse than the procedure itself! At least 3 injections will be required, with further injections depending on the agent used and response to treatment. Your Consultant will discuss this with you.
How do I make an appointment?
Your Consultant’s secretary will be able to assist you with availability and costs for your chosen consultant. You can find their contact details by clicking on the link below or visiting the Consultants section.
For further information or to book a consultation contact