All About Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

What is it?

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common condition affecting the central part of your vision. It is the leading cause of severe vision loss in adults over 60. It occurs when the small central part of your retina, known as the macula, wears down.  It doesn’t cause blindness but it can make everyday activities such as reading and recognising faces difficult. AMD isn’t painful and doesn’t affect the appearance of your eyes.

Symptoms of AMD

AMD affects the central part of your vision only. It’s possible to get it in one eye only or both eyes. The initial symptom is usually a blurred or distorted area in your vision. As it progresses, you may struggle to see anything in the centre of your vision.

Other symptoms include:

  • Seeing straight lines as wavy or crooked
  • Objects looking smaller than normal
  • Colours seeming less bright than they used to
  • Seeing things that aren’t there (hallucinations)

Staying healthy

If you have age related macular degeneration, try to:

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Stop smoking
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise regularly

You may also be at a higher risk of AMD if you have a family history of the condition

The different types of AMD and treatments 

There are 2 types of AMD:

Dry AMD                                         Wet AMD

Caused by a build-up of a fatty        Caused by the growth of abnormal substance called drusen in the       blood vessels from underneath the macula                                             macula

Common                                          Less common

Gets worse gradually – usually       Can get worse quickly – sometimes

Over several years                           Over a period of several  days or  weeks

Although there is no treatment for dry AMD, low vision aids can help reduce the effect on your life. If you have wet AMD, you may need regular eye injections to prevent your vision from deteriorating. If injections alone aren’t working, light treatment may also be given for wet AMD. This involves shining a very bright light at the back of the eye to destroy the abnormal blood vessels. This usually has to be repeated every few months to achieve the optimum result.

Article written by Sight Cymru’s Sight Awareness Project Officer, Esther Weller.

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