Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a condition that can lead to severe vision loss and even blindness, especially among older adults, impacting the lives of around 700,000 people, with nearly 200 new cases daily being diagnosed daily.
In this comprehensive article, we at Safarian and Simon Opticians will delve into what macular degeneration is and the steps you can take to ensure you maintain the health of your eyes.
What is Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration is a chronic eye disease that gradually impairs central vision, making it difficult to perform tasks that require clear sight. The macula is crucial for sharp, detailed vision, enabling us to see objects clearly.
As this part of the retina deteriorates, central vision becomes distorted or blurry, making it challenging to focus on fine details. This can make tasks like reading and driving increasingly difficult.
There are two forms – Dry and Wet. Those who have dry have around a 10% risk conversion to wet which is a more aggressive type. The primary cause is age, but we can discuss modifiable risk factors.
Macular Degeneration’s impact on everyday life
Macular degeneration can make routine activities challenging, leading to feelings of frustration and decreased independence.
However, with the support of specialised treatment plan put together by our optometrist Sachin Patel, individuals with macular degeneration can continue to lead fulfilling lives.
If you want to ensure the health of your eyes to decrease negative impacts on your lifestyle, book an eye test with Safarian and Simon Opticians to ensure any diseases are detected and treated early.
How is Macular Degeneration detected?
Detecting macular degeneration in its early stages is crucial for effectively managing the condition. Regular eye tests, especially after the age of 50, can help identify any signs of macular degeneration.
Safarian and Simon Opticians will perform a comprehensive eye examination to assess the health of the retina and macula, identify any abnormalities, determine the stage of macular degeneration.
We use the Heidelberg Spectralis OCT scan to undertake a non-invasive 3D scan of the macula, this allows most of the earliest stages to be detected accurately.
Our OCT has the highest resolution to monitor subtle changes. We are looking for signs of ‘Drusen’ – these are waste changes on the retina. Our ultra-wide retinal camera will detect drusen away from the macula as well.
How is Macular Degeneration treated?
While macular degeneration doesn’t have a cure, there are several treatment options available to slow down its progression and manage its symptoms. The treatment approach depends on the type and stage of macular degeneration:
1. Dry Macular Degeneration treatment
For dry macular degeneration, treatment often focuses on lifestyle changes and nutritional supplements, including antioxidant vitamins and minerals, such as:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
These can help reduce the risk of disease progression. A diet rich in green leafy vegetables, fish, and nuts may also contribute to maintaining eye health. Supplements can be recommended as well.
2. Wet Macular Degeneration treatment
Wet macular degeneration, characterised by abnormal blood vessel growth beneath the retina, requires more intensive treatment. Injections are commonly administered to inhibit the growth of new blood vessels and prevent leakage. Ideally this treatment should begin within two weeks.
Can Macular Degeneration be prevented?
While macular degeneration is more common among older adults, certain lifestyle modifications and eye care practices may help reduce the risk of developing the condition:
- Healthy diet: Consuming a diet rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins can promote eye health. Foods like salmon, spinach, kale, and oranges provide essential nutrients.
- Regular exercise: Engaging in regular physical activity can enhance blood circulation to the eyes and reduce the risk of macular degeneration.
- Eye protection: Protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays by wearing sunglasses.
- Smoking: Smokers carry a higher risk of AMD.
- Regular eye tests: If you are over 50 or have a family history of the condition, annual eye exams are recommended to ensure early detection of diseases. However, there are other forms of macula disease, so we recommend annual checks for all age groups.
FAQs – Macular Degeneration
Is macular degeneration a common condition?
Yes, macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of vision loss among older adults.
Are there any warning signs of macular degeneration?
Symptoms can include blurred or distorted central vision, difficulty recognising faces, and the appearance of dark spots in your vision. However, these are typically not in early stages.
If you are diagnosed with AMD, we can supply lots of educational information. We can provide an a home ‘Amsler’ chart to monitor for changes, so you know when to contact us.
Can macular degeneration lead to complete blindness?
Whilst macular degeneration can cause severe vision loss, peripheral vision is usually unaffected, allowing individuals to maintain some level of functional vision. It depends on the severity of disease.
Remember, regular eye exams with Heidelberg OCT scanning, a healthy lifestyle, and prompt medical attention are key to managing macular degeneration effectively.
If you want to assess the health of your eye to maintain optimal vision, book an eye test with Safarian & Simon, and experience unparalleled eye care.