What are the symptoms of age-related macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration isn’t painful. You may not even notice you have the condition until you experience a loss of vision. AMD affects activities requiring detail, such as reading and writing.
The more common of the two conditions, dry AMD affects your ability to see fine detail. You may find it difficult to read, use your computer, watch the television, drive, etc. Some people may not realise the change in vision, as the deterioration is so slow.
Wet AMD involves a sudden and sometimes dramatic decline in your central vision, usually in one eye. Typically, wet AMD develops in people who have already had dry AMD. It is very important that anyone who has unusual symptoms, such as straight lines appearing to be wavy or blurring of the central vision, contacts an optometrist as soon as possible.
What causes age-related macular degeneration?
Dry AMD is caused by the gradual breakdown of light-sensitive cells in the macula over several years. Wet AMD is caused by the growth of blood vessels underneath the macula, which can leak or cause scarring.
It is not known why this is, but it tends to happen as people get older. There are also several risk factors associated with macular degeneration:
- Family history
As it’s an age-related process, it usually involves both eyes, although they may not be affected at the same time.
What help is available?
There is currently no treatment available for dry AMD, but the wet type can sometimes be helped, if it is detected early.
Your optometrist will be able to advise on adjustments you can make to your lifestyle to lower your risk of macular degeneration, such as nutritional supplements to slow the progression of the condition.
Specsavers will monitor your vision and eye health with regular eye tests to detect any changes, as dry macular degeneration can develop into the wet type – which then can be treated.
If there are signs of wet macular degeneration, your optometrist will refer you to the hospital for prompt treatment.