Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the biggest cause of sight loss in the UK. As its name indicates, AMD usually affects people over the age of 50. Around 1 in 200 over 60s have some level of AMD, rising to 1 in 5 for over 90s. This eye disease affects your central vision.
Types of AMD
There are 2 types of AMD – dry and wet. Dry AMD is when the macular cells in the eye deteriorate slowly, with vision being affected over months or even years. Wet AMD can develop suddenly when abnormal blood vessels grow in the macula.
Symptoms & causes
Individuals can be affected differently by AMD, but common symptoms can include:
- words disappearing when you are reading
- straight lines appearing distorted
- gaps or dark spots in your vision
- colours fading
- aversion to bright light
Research is still being done into the causes but it is thought to be hereditary, with the risk level being increased by smoking, obesity, and continued exposure of the eyes to UV rays over the years.
If caught early enough, an individual with wet AMD can be referred to the hospital and treated to minimise further damage, but sadly there is no treatment for dry AMD at present. Dry AMD can be managed to control the rate of progression through the use of eye vitamin supplements. It is thought that certain vitamins and nutrients can help to slow the progression of AMD, particularly lutein.
Having regular eye exams and retinal scans play the most important role in detecting the early signs of AMD so our optometrist can determine if it is wet or dry and take the necessary action as quickly as possible. If you have wet AMD you will be referred to the hospital for treatment and, with dry AMD, we will help you with a management programme and vitamin supplements to help preserve your vision for as long as possible. Our optometrists are dedicated to helping people with AMD and are also able to recommend low vision aids, like magnifiers, to make your life easier.
It’s important to note that about 10-15% of people with dry AMD can go on to develop wet AMD, so if you notice sudden changes in your vision, it’s essential that you contact us urgently.
With our Eyecare Plan, you’ll be able to have as many eye exams and retinal scans as necessary to monitor your eye health and AMD progression if you’ve already been diagnosed.