Macular Degeneration

What is AMD?

The macula is the central portion of the back of the eye (retina) and responsible for central vision. AMD is a disease associated with aging that gradually destroys the sharp central vision and occurs most often after the age of 60. AMD usually occurs in both eyes, but the degree of involvement can vary between the two eyes.

AMD occurs in two forms: dry AMD and wet AMD.

Dry AMD is the more common type caused by a build-up of a fatty substance called drusen in macular. Itis more slowly progressive in causing visual loss usually over several years. But sometimes dry AMD can develop into wet AMD.

Wet AMD  is less common caused by the growth of abnormal blood vessels, but more aggressive in its progression to severe central vision loss sometimes in days or weeks.

What are the symptoms?

There may be no symptoms in the early stages of AMD. AMD isn’t painful. The first symptom is often a blurred or distorted area in your vision. If it gets worse, you might struggle to see anything in the middle of your vision. AMD can make things like reading, watching TV, driving or recognising faces difficult.Other symptoms include: seeing straight lines as wavy or crooked, objects looking smaller than normal, colours seeming darker than they used to, or seeing things that aren’t there (hallucinations).

How is AMD treated?

Smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, Caucasian race, family history of AMD increase the risk of AMD. There is currently no treatment for dry AMD unless it develops into wet AMD.  Wet AMD can be treated by eye injections of ‘anti-VEGF’ drugs. VEGF (Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor) is the chemical in the body responsible for the development of healthy blood vessels, but can also cause the growth of unwanted and unhealthy blood vessels. The most commonly used anti-VEGF drugs are called Lucentis (ranibizumab) and Eylea (aflibercept). They are given by an injection into the eye to block VEGF and regress the unhealthy blood vessels to reduce swelling of the macular.

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