Part of the Good Vision for Life Series – Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) – Fact Sheet.
What is it? How do I know if I have it? How can I treat it?
What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)?
The macula is a very small part of the retina, which is the light-sensitive
tissue at the back of the eye. The macula is responsible for the detailed
sharp vision that is used for reading, driving and seeing fine detail. AMD
generally occurs as a result of changes in the macula due to ageing,
which cause your central vision to blur. Your peripheral vision remains
How will I know if I have AMD?
Age-related macular degeneration causes no pain or discomfort and
commonly progresses slowly. In its early stages, AMD may be detected in
an eye exam before symptoms occur. The first symptom is typically difficulty
seeing fine detail in the centre of your vision and over time, this central area may
increase in size. In some cases, AMD may cause lines to appear distorted or wavy.
What causes Age-Related Macular Degeneration?
There are two types of AMD: dry and wet. The dry form is more common
and less severe. It causes a gradual deterioration in your central vision
over time. Dry AMD accounts for 90 per cent of all AMD but can change
into the wet type over time. The wet form is less common and occurs
when a blood vessel underneath the macula leaks and symptoms can
progress rapidly. This type needs urgent treatment.
Who gets AMD?
The major risk for developing AMD is age, with one in seven people over
50 years affected. Smoking is the major controllable risk factor with
smokers having twice the risk of developing AMD. You should have an
eye exam which checks for the signs and symptoms of AMD if you:
> are older than 50 years
> are a smoker
> have hypertension or cardiovascular disease
> have a family history of AMD
> have a history of UV exposure
How does an optometrist diagnose AMD?
As part of your comprehensive eye examination your optometrist will check the
macula at the back of the eye. In some cases the optometrist may need to
put eye-drops in your eyes when checking for AMD. A widefield image
of the back of your eye will be taken and used for comparison at future eye
Can AMD be treated?
There is currently no treatment for dry age-related macular degeneration and those with dry AMD
need regular eye exams to ensure the wet form does not develop. A new
treatment for wet AMD is now available in which an ophthalmologist
injects anti-VEGF solution into the eye. When injected into the eye, this
solution inhibits a protein called VEGF that causes abnormal, leaky
blood vessels to grow. Anti-VEGF therapy is the first treatment of AMD
that has been shown to improve vision in some cases.
The treatment needs to be repeated, commonly each month, as part of
the ongoing treatment of the disease.
This treatment aims to keep the best vision for as long as possible.
The early detection of any form of AMD is important because the earlier
AMD is detected and treated, the better your vision is likely to be
Regular eye examinations are your best protection against vision loss from AMD.
For more information and help to select the treatments that meet all your eye
care and lifestyle needs and to book a consultation, contact us at Vision Excellence.
Fact or Fiction?
Does eating vegetables help prevent AMD?
Yes. A low-fat diet rich in green, leafy vegetables, nuts
and fish may be beneficial in reducing the impact of AMD. Eggs are a rich source of Lutein and Xeazanthin, both vital for healthy macular pigment. There are nutritional supplements that may help reduce AMD progression.
Speak to your optometrist about whether these are right for you.
Does reading in poor light cause AMD?
No. Other than making things more difficult to see, reading with poor
light will not harm your eyes over time.
Will stronger glasses cure AMD?
Glasses cannot cure AMD but many people with AMD can be helped to
continue functioning for years by using the correct prescription glasses
in good lighting.
Visit Macular Disease Foundation for more information on the condition