About Age-related Macular Degeneration
AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration) is a condition that can affect your eyes as you get older. In fact, in the over 50s, AMD is the leading cause of sight loss in Ireland.1
Dry AMD is the most common form of the condition and develops slowly, eventually leading to loss of central vision.1
Wet AMD is caused by leaky blood vessels inside the eye. It is less common than dry AMD but it can cause more rapid loss of vision. It is responsible for 90% of cases of severe vision loss.3
It is common for patients to develop the more severe form of wet AMD after first developing dry AMD. What is more, AMD can develop in one eye first with no noticeable effects, as the second, good eye, compensates. Often, it is only when the second eye develops symptoms that a problem becomes apparent. This could be too late to treat the first eye. That is why, if you are over 50, the Association of Optometrists Ireland recommends that you have a comprehensive eye check annually.
What Causes AMD?
The exact causes of AMD are still unknown. Although there can be a history of the condition in certain families, AMD is still not believed to be genetic. However, if close relatives have suffered with sight loss in the past, then it may be worth getting your eyes checked more regularly.
Studies have shown a definite link between smoking and AMD. Other factors such as high blood pressure and poor diet can also lead to a greater risk of getting AMD. Vitamins (C & E), lutein, Zeaxanthin, copper and zinc supplements in your diet, can help reduce the risk of developing AMD.
There are many risk factors for AMD, some out of your control, such as age, family history, race and gender. However, there are some steps you can take now to help protect your sight from .
Studies have shown that if you smoke you are twice as likely to develop macular degeneration.4
Regular Eye Tests
If you are aged 50 or over it is important that you go for regular eye tests for AMD. Full annual eye examination over 50 years are also essential for drivers, if your occupation depends on having good vision, and if you have certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, glaucoma or high blood pressure.
How AMD can affect your sight
AMD is progressive and it is also painless. While AMD may affect your central vision, most people still retain useful side (or peripheral) vision.
Key symptoms of AMD include:
- Distortion, where straight lines may appear wavy or bent. For example, lines of tiles in the bathroom appear wavy.
- Difficulty in reading or doing any other activity which requires fine vision.
- Difficulty in distinguishing faces.
- Dark patches or empty spaces, which appear in the centre of your vision.
- The need for increased illumination, sensitivity to glare, decreased night vision and poor colour sensitivity.
But remember, if you notice any change in your vision, see an eye care professional immediately!