Eye Conditions

Macular Degeneration

What is Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration, commonly referred to as age-related macular degeneration, is a condition that affects a person’s central vision due to the deterioration of the retina.

This retina deterioration often occurs with ageing, and there are two main types of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD):

  • Dry ARMD is a gradual and progressive degeneration of the light-sensitive photoreceptors located at the macular, slowly reducing vision.
  • Wet (neovascular) ARMD is the development of abnormal and highly fragile blood vessels under the retina that leak or bleed resulting in a rapid reduction and distortion of vision.

Symptoms of Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration can cause distortion and loss of central vision while peripheral vision usually remains unaffected and common symptoms include:

  • Straight lines appear bent or wavy
  • Letters or numbers appear jumbled when reading
  • Difficulty adjusting to low light levels 
  • Reduced intensity of or brightness of colours 
  • Gradual decline in the ability to see objects clearly
  • Dark or empty spaces blocking the central field of vision

What is Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration, commonly referred to as age-related macular degeneration, is a condition that affects a person’s central vision due to the deterioration of the retina.

This retina deterioration often occurs with ageing, and there are two main types of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD):

  • Dry ARMD is a gradual and progressive degeneration of the light-sensitive photoreceptors located at the macular, slowly reducing vision.
  • Wet (neovascular) ARMD is the development of abnormal and highly fragile blood vessels under the retina that leak or bleed resulting in a rapid reduction and distortion of vision.

Symptoms of Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration can cause distortion and loss of central vision while peripheral vision usually remains unaffected and common symptoms include:

  • Straight lines appear bent or wavy
  • Letters or numbers appear jumbled when reading
  • Difficulty adjusting to low light levels 
  • Reduced intensity of or brightness of colours 
  • Gradual decline in the ability to see objects clearly
  • Dark or empty spaces blocking the central field of vision

What can cause Macular Degeneration?

While anyone can develop age-related macular degeneration, several factors can place you at greater risk.

Uncontrollable risk factors

  • Over 40
  • Genetics / Family history of ARMD
  • Gender – ARMD is more common in females
  • Fair complexion and/or light eye colour
  • High long-sightedness

Controllable risk factors

  • Smoking – 6x greater risk
  • Poor Nutrition – a diet high in lutein and omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the risk of ARMD
  • Obesity
  • Excessive UV Exposure

Treatment of Macular Degeneration

Unfortunately there is no cure for age-related macular degeneration, however, there is effective treatment for the most aggressive form, wet (neovascular) age-related macular degeneration, which can save your eyesight.

In the case of wet age-related macular degeneration, the protein vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is predominantly responsible for the abnormal growth of blood vessels and fluid leakage under the retina.

Intravitreal injections of Anti-VEGF (Anti-Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor) is the most common treatment to target and shrink the abnormal blood vessels and dry up the excess fluid.

Intravitreal injections work to stabilise and prevent vision decline however early detection and intervention are crucial.

Useful Links

Watch an overview of macular degeneration

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