Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Macular degeneration is a retinal eye disorder that results in progressive decrease of the central vision. It can affect the ability to drive, read or recognise faces. It is one of the most common causes of significant vision loss and blindness. This condition usually affects people over 50 (1 in 7 over 50yrs in Australia) and is commonly a result of ageing. Family history and smoking are other major risk factors. There is no pain associated with AMD.

Symptoms & Diagnosis

There are several types of Age-related Macular Degeneration, the most common is Dry AMD, affecting up to 90% of all AMD patients. Wet AMD is less common; however, it is a more visually threatening condition. Weak blood vessels leak into the retinal layer causing scarring and destroying cells that are important for the vision. The Ophthalmologist will undertake a comprehensive eye examination, usually including a scan (OCT) of the retina and slit lamp examination. . The Amsler Grid is a tool to detect changes at the macula and are available at the clinic.

Symptoms can include:

  • Blur in central vision
  • Distorted/wavy vision
  • Difficulty reading, especially in poor light conditions

Treatment

Treatment is used to slow the progression of Wet AMD and stabilise, sometimes improve symptoms. Wet AMD is commonly treated with Anti-VEGF injections which most likely involves ongoing treatment to prevent any loss of vision. Some patient might benefit from laser treatment of the blood vessels inside the eye to prevent them from leaking. Unfortunately, little can currently be done for dry AMD but oral supplements can slow progression. Extensive research is being done on laser, injection, genetic and stem cell treatments.

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