Macular degeneration

What is macular degeneration?

Macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is the most common type of eye disease in UK adults aged over 55, although it can develop at an earlier age.

AMD affects a tiny part of the retina at the back of your eye called the macula, and can cause problems with central vision. Early diagnosis and treatment of AMD is essential to prevent vision loss.

What are the types of macular degeneration?

There are two types of AMD: ‘wet’ and ‘dry’:

  • Wet AMD is the more serious type and affects around 10% of people with AMD. In wet AMD, the macula becomes damaged and new blood vessels start to grow behind the macula. Wet AMD can cause you to lose central vision in weeks. All people with the wet type had the dry type first.

 

  • Dry AMD is the most common type and least serious type. It affects around 90% of people with AMD. This type develops gradually when the light-sensitive cells in the macula slowly break down. Dry AMD can lead to loss of central vision but it rarely causes complete blindness.

What are the symptoms?

The main symptoms of AMD include:

  • Blurred vision, shadows or blind spots
  • Straight lines appearing wavy
  • Trouble reading, recognising people’s faces or watching TV
  • Difficulty telling colours apart
  • Slower vision recovery after seeing bright lights

When should I see a doctor?

Diagnosing AMD as early as possible is the key to helping to slow down its progress. If your eyesight starts to get blurred or suddenly gets worse, you should book an emergency appointment to see your consultant. AMD doesn’t always cause symptoms at first so it’s important to get your eyes examined at least once every two years.

What treatments are available?

No cures are currently available for either type of AMD but some treatments can help to slow it down or reduce sight loss. Book an appointment with one of our expert eye surgeons by using our enquiry form

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