What is AMD?
The macula is a very small part of the retina, which is the light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. The macular is responsible for the detailed sharp vision that is used for reading, driving and seeing fine detail. AMD generally occurs as a result of changes in the macula due to ageing, which cause your central vision to blur. Your peripheral vision remains unaffected.
How will I know if I have AMD?
AMD causes no pain or discomfort and commonly progresses slowly. In its early stages, AMD may be detected in an eye exam before symptoms occur. The first symptom is typically difficulty seeing fine detail in the centre of your vision and over time, this central area may increase in size. In some cases, AMD may cause lines to appear distorted or wavy.
What causes AMD?
There are two types of AMD: dry and wet. The dry form is more common and less severe. It causes a gradual deterioration in your central vision over time. Dry AMD accounts for 90% of all AMD but can change into the wet type over time. The wet form is less common and occurs when a blood vessel underneath the macula leaks and symptoms can progress rapidly. This type requires urgent treatment.
Who gets AMD?
The major risk for developing AMD is age, with 1 in 7 people over 50 years affected. Smoking is the major controllable risk factor with smokers having twice the risk of developing AMD. You should have an eye exam which checks for the signs and symptoms of AMD if you:
- Are older than 50 years
- Are a smoker
- Have hypertension or cardiovascular disease.
- Have a family history of AMD
- Have a history of UV exposure
How do our Optometrists diagnose AMD?
As part of your eye examination our optometrists will check the macula at the back of the eye. It is common for our optometrists to put eye drop sin your eyes when checking for AMD. They may need to take a photograph of your macula for comparison at your next eye examination.
Fact or Fiction
Does eating vegetables help prevent AMD?
Yes. A low – fat diet rich in green, leafy vegetables, nuts and fish may be beneficial in reducing the impact of AMD. There are even nutritional supplements that may help reduce AMD progression. Speak to one of our optometrists about whether these are right for you.
Does reading in poor light cause AMD?
No. Other than making things more difficult to see, reading with poor light will not harm your eyes over time.
Will stronger glasses cure AMD?
Glasses cannot cure AMD but many people with AMD can be helped to continue function for years by using the correct prescription glasses in good lighting.
Can AMD be treated?
There is currently no treatment for dry AMD and those with dry AMD need regular eye exams to ensure the wet form does not develop. A new treatment for wet AMD is now available in which an ophthalmologist injects anti-VEGF solution into the eye. When injected into the eye, this solution inhibits a protein called VEGF that causes abnormal, leaky blood vessels to grow. Anti 0 VEGF therapy is the first treatment of AMD that has been shown to improve vision in some cases.
The treatment needs to repeated, commonly each month, as part of the ongoing treatment of the disease.
This treatment aims to keep the best vision for as long as possible. The early detection of any form of AMD is important because the earlier AMD is detected and treated, the better your vision is likely to be in future.