Age Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD)

AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in the western world.

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) usually affects people over 60, and is the leading cause of vision loss in the western world.  The macula is a small, but extremely important area located at the centre of the retina. It is responsible for your central, colour and detailed vision, so its breakdown can cause severe vision problems. Your side, or peripheral, vision usually remains normal. For example, when people with AMD look at a clock, they can see the clock’s outline but cannot tell what time it is; similarly, they gradually lose the ability to recognise people’s faces.

May is Macula Month

For a free information kit contact the Macular Disease Foundation Australia’s national helpline on 1800 111 709 or visit https://www.mdfoundation.com.au/content/resources

Types of Macular Degeneration

Dry AMD is the most common form of macular degeneration, and affects around 85 to 90% of people with AMD. It develops when there is a build-up of waste material under the macula and thinning of the retina at the macula. Vision loss (confined to central vision) is usually gradual, and only occasionally severe. However, it can change into wet AMD.

Wet AMD is the more aggressive form of macular degeneration, and can lead to rapid and severe vision loss. However, it only occurs in 10 to 15% of AMD sufferers.

Wet AMD occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow underneath the macula. These unhealthy vessels leak blood and fluid, which can prevent the retina from working properly. Eventually the bleeding and scarring can lead to severe permanent loss of central vision, but the eye is not usually at risk of losing all vision (going ‘blind’) as the ability to see in the periphery remains. Symptoms of wet AMD include a reduction of central vision, and also distortion of vision, which can make straight lines (such as window frames, telegraph poles or lines of text) look bent or wavy.

The Amsler Grid is a simple test that will help you determine if your vision is distorted in this way. You can test yourself here:

The images above show an Amsler Grid with straight lines as seen by a normal-sighted person on the left and on the right as might be seen by a person with macular degeneration, who may notice distortion of the grid pattern as bent lines, irregular box shapes or a grey shaded area.

Early detection and treatment can help slow down and even stop macular degeneration, and could save your sight. It’s therefore important to see an eye specialist for regular check-ups, especially if you notice any changes in your vision.

To find out more about this condition and how we can help please contact us.

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