Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness. People aged over 50 years are at greatest risk and regular eye examinations are crucial for early detection. Early treatments are effective to slow or even stop the progression of this condition.

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About

Age related Macular Degeneration is a type of progressive Macular Degeneration found in people over 50 years old. In Australia, it is the leading cause of blindness and severe vision loss.

The retina is responsible for converting light entering the eye into chemical signals which are sent to the brain via the optic nerve. The macular is a highly sensitive area of the retina that contains specialised cone cells, which are responsible for seeing colour and fine vision, necessary for reading and recognising faces.

As only the macula is affected in AMD, peripheral vision will remain intact, however central vision will be compromised.

Symptoms

AMD may cause blurred vision, distorted central vision or vision loss. This may become evident through:

  • Difficulty reading fine print and writing
  • Straight lines appearing wavy/ distorted
  • Missing or blank areas in central vision
  • Difficulty recognising faces
  • Difficulty reading in low light
  • Glare or light sensitivity

Type of AMD 

There are two types of macular degeneration:

Dry AMD

This form is the atrophy of photoreceptor cells causing an interruption or loss of signals being sent to the brain. This is usually the slower progressing type of the two forms. There is currently no treatment for dry AMD.

WET

This is the more acute form of AMD. Abnormal blood vessels grow at the macular and leak fluid which disrupt the photoreceptors and affects vision. Scarring can also occur, resulting in permanent visual loss.

Treatments

Wet AMD, unlike Dry, can be treated. This is done with intra ocular injections (inside the eye), which reduce the growth of the abnormal leaking blood vessels. This can reduce and eventually stop the accumulation of fluid at the macular that causes blurred vision. These injections are performed at the clinic with a local anaesthetic.

 

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