All about Macular Degeneration
Age-related Macular Degeneration, also known as 'AMD', is the most common cause of visual loss in the developed world. It tends to cause a gradual loss of central vision, but can sometimes come on quite suddenly.
How does it affect vision?
In the early stages, central vision can become blurred and you may notice difficulty with reading. Colour vision can be affected, and in more advanced cases sufferers may having difficulty recognising people's faces from a distance.
In most cases, both eyes are affected but the degree of impairment can vary between the eyes. Macular degeneration does not affect peripheral vision.
When should I seek medical advice?
If you notice any sudden distortion or loss of central vision you should seek immediate medical attention because this can be a sign of 'wet' macular degeneration. 'Dry' macular degeneration tends to cause a more gradual deteriortion in vision.
If you are concerned, you should arrange an appointment to have your eyes checked, but bear in mind that gradual deterioration can be caused by many other conditions, such as cataract, or simply because your glasses prescription has changed.
How is macular degeneration treated?
Treatment depends on the type and severity of the condition, but there is currently no 'cure' for macular degeneration. Some types of wet macular degeneration can be treated with injections into the eyeball to reduce the rate and severity of visual loss.
If treatment isn't possible, you may benefit from specialist magnifiers and other low vision aids.
Is there anything else I can do?
A good diet is important in keeping this part of the eye healthy. A diet rich in green, leafy vegetables may help reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration, and may also slow the progress of the disease if you already have it.
You may be advised to reduce your eyes' exposure to ultra-violet light by having UV-blocking lenses in your glasses, and wearing a good-quality pair of sunglasses and a hat when it's bright outside.