Age Related Macular Degeneration

age related eye conditions

Like many age-related eye conditions, AMD is relatively common. It can begin at any time in life but most usually affects people in their 50s and 60s.

The condition affects the centre part of the visual field so has most impact on the subject of focus. AMD therefore has its greatest impact on activities that require direct focus such as sewing, reading, driving and facial recognition. People rarely lose all their vision from age-related macular degeneration and it doesn’t always affect both eyes. The peripheral areas of the visual field remains unaffected so to a degree, this allows patients to adapt to the condition. The sufferer may have poor central vision but even in advanced stages of the disease you will still be able to use peripheral vision to compensate by looking to the side of the visual field rather than making use of the direct line of sight.
However, treatment should be sought as soon as a problem is recognised as this will reduce the risk of further deterioration of sight.
Without treatment, vision will gradually get worse. The type of AMD one has (wet AMD or dry AMD) affects the speed of onset of the condition. With wet AMD, deterioration can occur relatively quickly, whereas the changes a usually more gradual in dry AMD.

Why does it happen?

The cause of the condition isn’t known but there are some commonly identified risk factors.
Consultant Ophthalmologist Mr Sanjay Mantry said: “We know that smoking, high blood pressure, obesity and genetic factors all play a part in AMD both in its presentation and development.
Consultant Ophthalmologist Mr Sanjay Mantry said: “We know that smoking, high blood pressure, obesity and genetic factors all play a part in AMD both in its presentation and development.
That’s why it’s so important to seek advice as quickly as possible when you notice any changes.
If you’ve noticed blurring in the middle part of your vision then it’s imperative to get it checked. Once you’ve had a diagnosis and a referral, we can help to talk you through your options.
transform vision with laser eye surgery
The physiological cause of the disease differs between wet and dry AMD.

Dry AMD is caused by a build up of a fatty substance on the back of an eye. Onset of the condition is slow as the fatty residue increases. There is usually no treatment available for dry AMD unless the condition develops into wet AMD. However, visual aids are available to manage the impact of dry AMD on life such as magnifying glasses, bold print books and special lighting.

Wet AMD is caused by the growth of abnormal blood vessels on the back of the eye. Onset is much quicker, a matter of days or weeks. In Wet AMD, treatment is possible to reduce the worsening of vision.

How is it treated?

Unfortunately there are no cures for age-related macular degeneration but treatments are available for Wet AMD sufferers. Treatments are used to slow the progression and protect you from severe visual impairment.

Anti-angiogenic injections are given directly into the eyes to stop vision getting worse. They do so by preventing new blood vessels from forming and blocks leaking that occurs from already formed abnormal blood vessels. Injections are effective on 90% of people and causes an improvement in vision for 30% of people.

At Laser Vision Scotland, anaesthetic drops are administered before the eye is injected. These drops number the eye so treatment is painless and without discomfort. There are a few side effects associated with these injections such as bleeding, irritation and redness. Injections are usually given every few months for as long as they are helping.

The National Eye Institute of Health has carried out a large study (Age-related eye disease study) that suggests that daily supplements of vitamin C, E, beta-carotene, zinc and copper can reduce the risk of vision loss from AMD.
Photodynamic therapy involves a light being shined at the back of the eye to destroy abnormal blood vessels that cause wet AMD. It may be recommended alongside eye injections. Photodynamic therapy can be repeated every few months and side effects can include temporary vision problems, eye and skin sensitivity and sensitivity to light for a few days or weeks.

How to reduce the risk of age related macular degeneration:

How is it diagnosed?

AMD can affect one or both eyes. It isnt painful and unlike cataracts, there is nothing obvious in the appearance of the eyes to suggest macular deterioration. You may notice while reading a book for example, blurred vision in the middle part of the page.

Lines

Seeing straight lines as wavy or crooked.

Colours

Colours appearing duller than they once were.

Objects

Certain object looking smaller.

Hallucinations

Caused by the brain compensating for items missing from the area of focus.

If you are concerned that you have any symptoms associated with AMD, you can arrange a consultation at Laser Vision Scotland.