AMD is a common condition that affects the central vision. It occurs due to damage to the macula, an area at the back of your eye which allows you to see things in fine detail, such as reading small text.
It does not cause complete blindness but affects your day-to-day functionality, tasks such as reading, recognising faces or watching TV are difficult. However you retain your peripheral vision so does not usually affect your ability to walk around.
Symptoms of AMD:
- blurred vision, particularly when concentrating on detail
- difficulty reading even with normal reading glasses
- A 'smudge' or a blank spot in the central vision
- Distortion in the central vision; straight lines may appear wavy
These usually are more noticeable when checking one eye at a time. A good way to monitor your eyes for AMD, is by covering each eye and looking at some detail (small text) to asses the vision, or looking at something that is supposed to be straight such as the edge of a door frame and making sure there isn't any distortion or waviness. If you notice anything unusual book an eye test as soon as possible.
What's the difference between wet and dry AMD?
AMD can be classified as early or late. Early AMD is always dry AMD, this is where yellow deposits (drusen) build up at the macula. A minority of people progress to late AMD, which can be either wet or dry.
Wet AMD is when abnormal blood vessels begin to grow behind the maucla and leak fluid. This causes swelling and a lack of oxygen to the macula causing a rapid loss of vision. Usually you would notice a fairly sudden onset of distortion or blurring of your central vision.
Wet AMD can often be treated if caught early enough, this is normally done by injecting a drug into the gel inside your eye.
Late Dry AMD (Geographic Atrophy) is relatively rare compared to wet AMD. You lose your central vision due to thinning or loss of the retinal fibres in the macula area, unfortunately there is no treatment for geographic atrophy.
How to reduce the risk of AMD:
- Smoking is a major risk factor for AMD. If you have been told you have early signs of AMD or are aware of a family history of AMD. It is advisable you try to stop smoking.
- UV protection - studies have shown prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays can increase the risk of AMD. Sunglasses are advised, even on cloudy days UV rays can affect your eyes!
- Eat veggies - eating food high in omega-3 and antioxidants has been shown to reduce the risk of AMD. Green leafy vegetables are particularly good for your general health and ocular health (e.g. kale, spinach and broccoli).
- Healthy lifestyle - by generally maintaining a healthy lifestyle your chances of developing AMD are reduced. Obesity and raised blood pressure are additional risk factors for AMD.
If it has been advised by your optometrists, vitamin supplements are available to take for early AMD. Please note these should not be taken if you smoke or have been exposed to asbestos.
We have invested in the latest technology and offer an OCT scan with our Advanced Eye Examination, which is typically done in hospital clinics.
The OCT takes a 3D scan of the layers of the retina, particularly the macula region. The very early signs of AMD start at between the retina and the choroid at the back of the eye, this is not visible to the optometrist using traditional methods, hence having an OCT scan allows us to detect signs of AMD very early on.