The macula is the part of the retina (back of the eye) that you use for seeing fine detail, such as reading a book or watching television. The term Macular Degeneration (also called Age Related Macular Degeneration – AMD) covers a number of conditions which affect the macula. Damage to the macular will affect your central vision, but will not normally cause complete blindness – peripheral vision will still remain.
One of the most common symptoms of Macular Degeneration is noticing that straight lines become wavy. You may not notice this if it happens in one eye as your other eye will compensate, so it is important to regularly check your vision in each eye seperately. You can do this with a printed grid of straight lines as illustrated to the right, or at home by looking at straight lines on a door frame or venitian blind. If you notice that the lines appear distorted you should contact an us straight away.
Types of Macular Degeneration
There are two types of MD. Dry MD is the most common form – one in ten people over the age of 65 will show signs of the condition. It occurs when yellow deposits, known as drusen, build up behind the macula. This may, in time, affect your vision although it normally happens slowly. There are no current treatments available for Dry MD, although lifestyle choices can help to reduce the risk, see below for more information. If you have any concerns, speak to us at your eye examination.
The main symptoms can be quite subtle and similar to those of cataracts, they are often found in both eyes:
Wet MD is less common but more severe, it happens when abnormal blood vessels begin to grow behind the macula and leak fluid. This pushes the macula away from its blood supply at the back of the eye and causes a rapid loss of vision. Wet MD can take effect within a few hours and typically occurs only in one eye. Treatment is available for Wet MD if it is caught in time, you will be referred to a hospital for consultation with an opthalmologist.
This is a serious medical condition and if you notice rapid onset of these symptoms, please contact us straight away, or telephone the NHS 111 number.
The main symptoms are:
Helping to Prevent Macular Degeneration
While there is currently no treatment for dry MD, there are a number of scientifically proven and easy ways that you can cut down your risk factors and help to ensure healthy vision for life.
Stop smoking. A British Medical Journal report showed that in Great Britain, an estimated 53,900 people older than 69 have AMD directly attributed to smoking. Of that number, 17,900 are registered as legally blind as a result.
Eat oily fish. The Omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish, including salmon, trout, tuna, mackerel, sardines, herring and anchovies have been proven to cut the risk of developing AMD by up to a third and can slow the progression of the condition in sufferers. Two or three portions a week are recommended by the NHS.
Eat leafy greens. The eye takes great benefit from carotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin) which provide the vibrant colours to certain vegetables and fruits. The best concentration is found in kale, along with spinach and broccoli, but you can also get benefits from many others, including sweet potatoes, tomatoes, carrots and prunes.
Regular exercise and avoid obesity. A study in the British Journal of Ophthalmology looked at 4,000 people ages 43 to 86 for 15 years and found that people who led an active lifestyle were 70 percent less likely to have AMD develop during the follow-up period. Maintaining a healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels can also help.
Let us Help
Regular Eye Examinations. The best way to detect the development of Macular Degeneration is through regular check-ups. Our most powerful tool is the 3D OCT Scan which allows us to see through the back of the eye and into the main risk areas for AMD, as well as helping us to monitor precise changes over time.
UV Protective Sunglasses. UV light is a risk factor in developing Macular Degeneration, as well as cataracts and other eye conditions. Wearing sunglasses with UV protection is recommended during any exposure to sunlight. For convenience you might want to think about Light 2 Dark lenses which offer 100% UV protection at all times and mean you don’t have to worry about carrying several pairs around with you.
Blue Light Protection. Digital devices such as smart-phones, tablets and computer screens emit large amounts of blue light and this is believed to be an increasing risk factor in AMD. We can offer BlueControl lenses, which reduce the amount of blue light entering your eye during normal wear, without a tint, so they are suitable for every day use.
Eye Health Supplements. If you cannot stomach eating oily fish every day, we can offer the specialised Omega Eye supplement, providing a healthy daily amount of Omega-3.
AMD Supplements. If you have been diagnosed with AMD or at a high risk, Macushield offers a powerful combination of three macular carotenoids: Meso-Zeaxanthin, Lutein and Zeaxanthin and has been proven to help slow the development of the condition. It is also available in a vegetarian capsule.