The macula is an area at the back of your eye where all the detailed sight comes from. Macular degeneration (MD) covers a number of conditions which affect the macula, they do not affect your peripheral vision.
One of the symptoms is noticing that straight lines appear wavy. You can check this by looking with each eye separately at the straight lines on a door frame or crossword grid. If you notice the lines are distorted, you should see your optometrist straight away.
MD happens when the macula becomes damaged. This can make it difficult to see fine detail, such as recognising faces or reading, it does not affect your ability to walk around as the periphery of your vision should not be affected.
MD is the leading cause of blindness in the UK.
The most common forms of MD happen as you get older and are known as age-related MD (AMD). Around one in 10 people aged 65 or over show some signs of MD.
Smoking is known as a major risk factor for developing AMD. So stop.
It is also believed that having a diet that is rich in oily fish and fruit and vegetables may reduce your risk of developing AMD. We recommend MacuShield eye supplement to help increase your resistance to AMD. This one a day supplement combines the three macula carotenids, including Meso-Zeaxanthin. Scientific research shows that taking this supplement increases macula pigment, thus helping to guard against AMD.
Other factors that increase your risk of developing AMD include having a family history of the condition, obesity and having blue eyes. It is slightly more common in women than men. It is thought that exposure to ultraviolet light may be linked to MD so it is recommended that you wear sunglasses when outdoors.
Dry AMD is much more common than wet AMD and is when deposits, build up behind the macula. This may, in time, affect your vision, though this normally happens slowly. No treatment has yet been developed for dry AMD.
Wet AMD happens when abnormal blood vessels begin to grow behind the macula and leak fluid. This pushes the macula away from the back of the eye and causes a rapid loss of vision.
There is currently no treatment for dry AMD. We can supply you with a wide range of magnifiers to help with reading. Organisations like RNIB can provide you with equipment that can help you manage your day-to-day tasks.
We AMD can often be treated, and this is done by injecting a drug into the gel inside your eye. This shrinks the new blood vessels that are pushing the macula away from the back of your eye. This is painless and you may need to have a course of treatment. It is important to spot any changes early by checking the vision in each eye separately and contacting your optometrist immediately if your vision suddenly becomes distorted or you have a blank spot in your vision.
If you have wet AMD, your optometrist will refer you to an ophthalmologist.