Macular Degeneration Treatment

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease which affects the macula of the eye.  This is the central part of the retina and gives us our sharpest vision - allowing us to read, drive and recognise faces.  AMD is a common cause of central vision loss in our community.

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Symptoms

Macular degeneration is characterised by a progressive reduction in the ability to determine fine detail, dimming of colour vision and loss or blurring of central vision.  This affects the ability to read, recognise faces and watch television as well as other daily tasks.  It is usually age related and generally occurs after the age of 50.  It can run in families so if you know someone related to you with the condition you should have your eyes checked by an optometrist.

TYPES & TREATMENT

TYPE: Dry

This is the most common form of macular degeneration.  The exact cause of AMD is not known and can generally be thought of as a multifactorial condition due to the interplay of ageing, genes and the environmental risk factors.  In the earliest phases the disease is characteristic by an accumulation of waste within the retina known as “drusen”.  Your ophthalmologist may see these in your eye and on images in the clinic.

TREATMENT

Currently while there is no specific treatment available for dry macular degeneration, life style modifications such as stopping smoking and a good diet are important.  In addition, there is a lot of research being conducted in Australia and around the world into the early stages of the disease.  The Centre for Eye Research Australia is involved in many trials into early AMD.

TYPE: Wet

This is the less common form of macular degeneration in which leaking abnormal blood vessels at the macula cause fluid and blood accumulation under the retina.  Untreated, this can lead to scarring and potentially dramatic sight deterioration.

TREATMENT

Until recently there was really very little treatment for this condition.  There is now treatment for the ‘wet’ form of macular degeneration with drugs known as anti-vascular endothelial growth factors (anti-VEGF) that cause the abnormal vessels at the macula to shrink.  The drugs are injected into the eye painlessly with the assistance of local anaesthetic.  A number of injections may be necessary to control the growth of the abnormal blood vessels.

Image by Daniil Kuželev

Age Related Macular Degeneration

Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is one of the leading causes of severe vision impairment in older Australians. Risk factors for the development of age related macular degeneration include smoking and a positive family history.

Support Agencies for Macular Degeneration

There are a number of support agencies to help those affected by MD including The Macular Degeneration Foundation and Vision Australia.

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