The macula is the area in the back of your eye that you use for seeing fine detail. As we get older we sometimes develop some damage or deterioration at the macula which may affect our vision.
Age related macular degeneration (AMD) can be classified as early or late.
Early AMD is characterised by the build up of little yellow deposits (drusen) at the macula. There is no treatment for early AMD and most people who have these early changes have near normal vision. For the majority of people, their condition will never progress past these early stages and their vision will not be significantly affected.
A minority of people with early AMD will progress to develop late AMD, in either its WET or DRY form.
Late AMD has a more significant affect on our vision and can lead to severe difficulties with tasks such as reading, watching TV and recognising faces.
In the WET form of AMD abnormal blood vessels begin to grow behind the macula and leak fluid. You will normally notice a sudden change in your vision such as distortion to straight lines or a missing / blurred patch of vision.
WET AMD can be treated, so it is important that if you notice any change in your vision you contact your Optometrist immediately.
One of the biggest risk factors for developing AMD is smoking, so it is important to try and stop as soon as possible. It is also believed that having a diet rich in coloured fruit an vegetables (such as kale, spinich, celery and broccoli) may reduce your risk of developing AMD. Protecting your eyes form UV light is also important so be sure to wear sunglasses when outdoors.
For anyone who is concerned about their risk of developing macular degeneration, we would recommend having an advanced eye health examination each year, which can detect earlier signs of any problems
You can get more advice and support regarding macular degeneration from the macular society.