Age Related Macular Eye Disease (AMD)
Also known as Atrophic Macular Degeneration


If you have ANY of the following symptoms
  • Reduced visual acuity
    (blurred vision)Difficulty distinguishing faces or doing any other activity which requires fine vision.
  • Poor colour vision.
    Including the need for increased illumination, sensitivity to glare, and decreased night vision.
  • Distortion
    Straight lines may appear wavy or bent. For example, tiles in the bathroom appear wavy or window frames are not straight.
  • Blind spots
    Dark patches or empty spaces can appear in the centre of your vision.
  • It's possible that you may be in the early stages of Age related macular eye disease or AMD

    How Macular Eye Disease appears to a sufferer.

    AMD stands for Atrophic Macular Degeneration.
    It is the leading cause of middle aged vision loss in the western world,

    AMD is, (like it says on the can) degeneration of the macula. Which is the central part of the retina, at the back of your eye.

    The macula is responsible for fine, detailed central-visual tasks such as reading.


    In the very early stages of Age related macular eye disease, you may not even notice you have it.

    Especially if you only have it in one eye, as the other healthy eye can compensate for any loss of vision...

    Also guess what. There are two types

    “Wet” and (you guessed it) “Dry”

    “Dry” AMD
    Is by far the more common (which is relatively good news as it is not as fast acting or severe as “Wet”)
    In fact its onset can go unnoticed for years. But it is still a one way street to severe vision loss and... (joy of joys)

    If you have it in one eye then it’s a good bet you will develop it in the other.

    In “Dry” AMD the Choroid which lies behind the retina, and contains its blood supply. Becomes obstructed by “cellular debris” called Drusen. Which are like little yellow deposits that can dislodge the retina in places causing the partial vision loss.

    Apparently there are some of these deposits in most over 50’s.
    But in the majority of cases they cause no visual problems.

    The size of Drusen are apparently related to Cholesterol levels, and there is a belief that lowering Cholesterol levels (never a bad thing) can help to slow the progress of Dry AMD.

    The University of Southampton in England has isolated a gene that is associated with Age related macular eye disease.
    So it’s possible that you could be genetically susceptible to it.

    The little good news is, that according to the National Eye Institute, taking anti-oxidant vitamin supplements containing Lutein, and Zeaxanthin, can slow, and sometimes regress the effects

    Although no “Cure” exists, there are various optical aids available to help use the better functioning parts of the retina

    “Wet” AMD
    Although rarer is far more serious.
    It accounts for only 10-15% of AMD cases, but 80% of severe vision loss.

    Wet Age related macular eye disease is caused by abnormal formation of new blood vessels in the Choroid.
    These become thin and leak. Building up pressure and killing areas of the retina.

    Its believed that Wet AMD is closely linked to smoking, and high fat intake, but again can also be genetic

    Until recently there was no treatment for Wet AMD.
    But lately favorable results have been seen by the use of various drugs which inhibit the growth of blood vessels.

    The downside of this is that they involve injections directly into the eye, which have to be done quite frequently.
    These drugs are also expensive, and, some are being used “Off label”, Which means that they are not designed or licensed for use in this way.

    There are also now several Laser options
    In one, a contact lens is inserted in the eye, to focus the laser beam, which burns away the leaky blood vessels, preventing further damage.

    Unfortunately, the process damages a small number of healthy blood vessels, which might cause you to lose a little vision.
    So it’s a trade off giving up a little eyesight to stop losing more.

    There has also been a recent development in laser treatment of Age related macular eye disease, called...

    Photodynamic Therapy.
    In which a dye is injected into the blood, which transports it to the retina.
    This dye shows up the leaking blood vessels.
    A laser is then shone on to the retina, which reacts with the dye, and destroys the abnormal vessels, without causing any damage to the surrounding parts.

    Regrettably, PDT can only be given to those in the early stages of AMD, so early diagnosis is essential.

    Living with AMD
    Living with AMD isn’t easy but the good news is that you will not go completely blind. There will always be some vision.

    The area of the macular is only about 5% of the total retina, and controls about 35% of our visual ability.
    It’s a shame it’s the bit in the middle.
    It takes quite a bit of getting used to, but I’m told that like most things, you can learn to live with it.The important bit is to diagnose it early, so you can do some damage limitation.



    Try reading 'Out of the corner of my eye' by Nicolette pernott Ringgold
    This tells the story of how one person has coped with AMD and offers valuable insights on living with Age Related Macular Eye Disease


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