Age Related Macular Degeneration

Age Related Macualr Degeneration (AMD) will affect 1 in 10 people over the age of 50. It is becoming the leading cause of blindness is the over-50s age group. AMD occurs most commonly in the dry form and less commonly in its wet form. AMD will affect your central vision. Early signs of AMD include visual distortion.

Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is one of the leading causes of blindness and visual impairment in the over-50s age group.

There are two forms of AMD

1. Dry AMD; this causes the central vision to become dimmer and as the disease progresses, the central vision can become distorted. Dry AMD is the most common form of AMD and affects about 90% of people who have AMD. As we age, the cells of the macula at the back of the eye become thinner and less efficient and they lose Lutein, an important pigment essential to good eye-sight. AMD is an acceleration of the natural aging process at the back of the eye.

Dry AMD cannot be treated, but taking Lutein supplements, following a healthy diet and lifestyle, with plenty of exercise and using good UV protective sunglasses can stabilise the progression of the condition.

2. Wet AMD; This is where blood vessels behind the retina at the back of the eye, leak, causing central vision loss (think of leaky pipes behind a wall!). This causes a drop in oxygen supply to the cells in the macula and the body responds by producing new fragile blood vessels and scar tissue. This process will cause permanent vision loss to the central visual field. Unlike dry AMD, Wet AMD causes rapid vision loss and requires treatment. Wet AMD is thought to have  strong genetic link, so if a family member has had wet AMD it is wise to take a good Lutein supplement, follow a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise. You don't develop Wet AMD suddenly. You will have had Dry AMD first though you may have not been aware of it.

Know your Risks

  • Genetics (Family History)
  • Smoking (increases your risk significantly, so give it up)
  • High Blood Pressure (watch your lifestyle)
  • Exposure to UV Light (especialy after Cataract surgery)

Monitor your eyes. Ask your optometrists to give you an AMSLER GRID. Regularly checking each eye in turn using this handy little card, can help detect early signs of changes in your central vision. 

REDUCE YOUR RISKS OF AMD RELATED VISUAL IMPAIRMENT; TALK TO YOUR OPTOMETRIST

Symptoms 

Signs of AMD affecting your vision include, difficulties when reading, blurred vision, visual distortion.In more advanced wet AMD, there can be complete loss of central vision.

Management 

The best way to reduce your risk of developing AMD is to know your risks, stop smoking, eat well and get exercise. If you have early signs of dry AMD and you do not need treatment, your optometrist will give you an AMSLER GRID, so that you cna monitor each eye seperately for the early signs of AMD affecting your sight.

Treatment 

Wet AMD, where there is leakage of the blood vessels at the back of the eye, can be treaetd by an Ophthalmologists who specialises in this area. Wet Amd can be treated by laser or special injections into the back of the eye called Anti-VegF injections, which reduce the risk of scarring and vision loss as a result of AMD. 

There is no treatment for Dry AMD, but there are special supplements, called Lutien which can help reduce the effects of dry AMD and slow down the process.

Your optometrist is trained to detect early signs of AMD. Your optometrist will monitor your eyes for signs of AMD. This is a routine part of every eye examination. If your optometrist feels you are at risk from visual impairment from AMD, they will refer you to an Eye Doctor to have your eyes checked out further,

This news article was written by the Association Of Optometrists Ireland (AOI)

The Association of Optometrists Ireland is the professional representative body for the vast majority of practising optometrists in the country. Formerly known as ophthalmic opticians and commonly referred to as opticians, the official title in Irish law is now optometrist.

For more information about the Association of Optometrists Ireland visit www.aoi.ie