Optical Macular Degeneration

Macular Degeneration

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What is it?

The macula is at the centre of your retina and is responsible for detailed central vision. Your macula helps you to read, drive, recognise faces and colours and see clearly. When your macula begins to break down, it affects your central vision and this condition is called macular degeneration. Your central vision becomes impaired and if left untreated, can lead to blindness.

There are two forms of macular degeneration: dry and wet. The dry form causes a gradual loss of central vision whilst the wet form can result in sudden vision loss.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss worldwide
Women develop more cases of AMD than men – 65% compared to 35%
Age, smoking and family history are key risk factors in developing AMD
Diets high in vitamins C and E, beta-carotene and zinc help to reduce the risk of AMD

The symptoms

You might not experience any obvious symptoms in the early stages of macular degeneration. The first thing you may notice is a gradual or sudden change in the quality of your vision or straight lines becoming distorted. Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty reading, driving or completing activities that require fine vision
  • Distorted vision – straight lines appear wavy or slightly bent
  • Distinguishing faces becomes difficult

Dark patches or empty spaces appear in the centre of your vision.

Loss of visual accuracy

Metamorphopia (distortion)

Scotoma (Central blind spot)

Am I at risk?

Although macular degeneration can affect anyone, it’s most common in people over the age of 50, smokers and those with a family history of the condition. Other risk factors are obesity, high blood pressure and having unchecked cardiovascular disease.

Early detection is crucial

Early detection is vital in reducing the severity of symptoms – that’s why it’s so important to get your eyes tested regularly. Because macular degeneration has many different symptoms and in its early stages they can be hard to detect, even the smallest change to your vision should never be ignored.

What we look for in your eye test

Our optometrists use the latest technology to detect macular degeneration, sometimes before symptoms even occur. This is done by examining your macula through an Optical Coherence Tomography scan (OCT). OCT scans provide the most comprehensive image of the eye available today.

Using 3D imaging technology, an OCT scan produces a highly detailed internal image of your eye, delivering a similar level of detail to an ultrasound or MRI. The best thing about OCT is that it allows your optometrist to clearly see the internal structure of your eye. This helps them to detect possible signs of macular degeneration before they progress into something more serious and result in permanent damage. The scan takes just a few minutes to complete and is completely pain-free as there’s no direct contact with your eye.

How do you treat macular degeneration?

The type of macular degeneration you have will determine your treatment options. Your Health Partners optometrist will discuss the best treatment plan for you depending on your condition and lifestyle.

If you’re worried about your eye health book an eye test today. Early detection is vital in treating any eye condition.

*Independently conducted research by New Focus Research, November 2016.