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MACULAR DEGENERATION

               

     

Age Related Macular Degeneration

May also be called AMD in America or ARMD in UK. Macular Degeneration is usually an age related eye disease. The central part of retina,called the macular,is affected. The vision decreases, making it harder to do tasks such as reading and watching TV.

Macular degeneration is often referred as “wear and tear” as part of retina becomes worn out due to age.

Symptoms of macular degeneration

There is no pain in macular degeneration. There is loss of central vision, may have blurred central spot or distortion making it harder to recognise faces in advanced macular degeneration.

Risk Factors in macular degeneration.

Age is the greatest risk factor for macular degeneration but there are other risks that can be reduced :

UV damage over long periods on time can increase risk of macular degeneration. The natural lens in the eye when it ages,  may not be able to absorb the harmful portion of UV rays as efficiently.

Wearing sunglasses or prescription glasses with UV filter may be important in macular degeneration. Blue portion of light tends to be more damaging to the retina. Therefore amber/orange tints can block the blue portion better.

Smoking and obesity may increase the risk of macular degeneration and may have genetic risk too.

A low vision aid may help to magnify print. Using a reading lamp close to the print may help significantly.

Glasses may still help - a higher magnification and holding books nearer, with a strong light close to the page can improve clarity

Can I go blind with macular degeneration ?

The side vision - peripheral retina - is not affected and so a person even with advanced macular disease, will still be able to see to the side . This wont be as good as normal central vision but its very useful to navigate and see people at sides.

Some macular degeneration patients  may use the side vision to read larger print.  This is called eccentric fixation technique.

There are two forms of macular degeneration

Dry and Wet macular degeneration with wet type reducing vision more quickly.

Dry  Macular Degeneration.

The retinal cells in the macular area slowly break down - usually with gradual burring of central vision in the affected eye.

Dry macular degeneration generally affects both eyes, but may not be equally affected and may be mild in other eye.

The dry type can progress onto wet type but at present time, there is no way of knowing.

 

Wet Macular Degeneration

When abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina and bleed in wet type of macular degeneration. These abnormal blood vessels are weaker and so can leak blood and fluid causing damage to the macula.

In wet macular degeneration the vision may be distorted - e.g., see wavy lines when they should be straight.

 

The wet macular degeneration tends to progress quicker and a person may lose more of their central vision than the dry type.

However dry macular degeneration is more common (85% of cases)

 

Drusen

One of the most common early signs of dry macular degeneration is drusen.

Drusen are yellow spots  which are deposits under the retina. They do not usually cause vision loss - but they can be a risk factor to develop dry ARMD. Scientist at present are unsure why.

They know that an increase in the size or number of drusen raises the risk of advanced dry or wet macular degeneration.

Eye Nutrition and Lifestyle

Eat a good, balanced diet with  fresh fruit and vegetables . Green leafy vegetables and fish may contain more carotenoids.

The following may prove useful for macular degeneration :

Do not smoke. Maintain normal blood pressure, weight and aim to exercise. Click for more information on Macular Treatment