Age Related Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye condition that affects a tiny part of the retina at the back of your eye, which is called the macula.

AMD causes problems with your central vision but does not lead to total loss of sight and is not painful.

AMD affects the vision you use when you’re looking directly at something, for example when you’re reading, looking at photos or watching television.

AMD may cause straight lines to appear wavy or distorted and, over a period of time, it may cause a blank patch in the centre of your vision.

Dry age-related macular degeneration

DRY AMD occurs when the macula pigment layer of the retina, responsible for keeping the sensitive macula area healthy, starts to function less effectively and becomes thinner or patchy.

There is currently no treatment for dry AMD.

Wet age-related macular degeneration

WET AMD is much less common (10-15% of all AMD), and occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow and leak fluid behind the macula, causing a more rapid loss of central vision .The most common method of treatment for wet AMD is currently an intravitreal injection of a drug called “Lucentis”. This stops the new blood vessels growing and leaking and needs to be repeated every 3-6 months.

Both types of AMD, can affect both eyes, but only affect the central vision, leaving the peripheral vision unaffected, so do not lead to total loss of sight.

At the moment, the exact cause for AMD is not known. Some things are thought to increase your chances of developing AMD:

  1. Age; AMD develops as people grow older and is most often seen in people over the age of 65.
  2. Gender; More women have AMD than men, probably because they tend to live longer.
  3. Genes; AMD has not been proven to be hereditary. Although, some genes have been identified which seem to be linked to the development of AMD in some people.
  4. Smoking; Smoking greatly increases your risk of developing AMD. Studies also show that stopping smoking can reduce your risk of developing AMD.
  5. Sunlight; Some studies suggest that exposure to high levels of UV in sunlight throughout your life may increase your risk of developing AMD. Wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes is advisable throughout life.
  6. Diet and Nutrition; A poor diet, high in fats and low in vitamins (antioxidants) and excessive alcohol has been linked to macula damage. There is some evidence that the antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, may help to slow the progression of AMD, or reduce the risk of AMD.

Current thinking is that by making lifestyle changes, the progress of AMD can be slowed.

Protecting your eyes from the sun, eating a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, and stopping smoking may all help to keep your eyes as healthy as possible.

If you are concerned with your eyesight and want to have a consultation with your local optometrist, please visit the practice to make an appointment or call to speak to one of our staff members on 0115 933 2999.