age related macular

AMD is the most common cause of blindness in the world at the moment. As its name implies, it is associated with ageing and cannot be reversed. It is caused by a deficiency in the recycling process of waste products in the part of the retina responsible for our central vision called the macula. The waste material builds up in the retina and causes distortions in the macula and thus also the vision. It almost always occurs after the age of 40 but early onset macular degeneration does also occur although less commonly. AMD produces a loss of central vision which can be quite debilitating as our central vision is what we rely upon for everyday tasks such as driving, watching TV, reading and even recognizing faces amongst other things.

There are two forms of AMD; dry and wet. The dry form generally produces a gradual loss of central vision and may vary from mild to severe. As yet there is no proven treatment for dry AMD, although some optometrists advocate the use of nutrition supplements containing antioxidants (eg. vitamins A, C and E), which may improve the recycling process.

The wet form is more debilitating producing a rapid loss of central vision and commonly a blind spot in the central vision. The damage is caused by leakage of new blood vessels which grow into the macula causing scar tissue formation. Ocular injections may be required to limit the damage the bleeding causes.

The earlier the detection and diagnosis of AMD is made, the better the prognosis for successful treatment and management. People with AMD need to be monitored closely particularly those with the wet form so as to improve the likelihood of early treatment.

Smoking has also been strongly linked to the cause of AMD.