Age-related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an ageing disease affecting the macula, the central light-sensitive area of the retina, responsible for our central fine vision. Symptoms associated with AMD are distortions of central vision, such as seeing that words become smaller, larger, or wavy in the central area of a sentence when reading. Some patients also find that they cannot see the central areas of a person’s face clearly. In most cases, peripheral or side vision is preserved.
Types of Age-related Macular Degeneration
AMD is generally divided into 2 types – dry AMD and wet AMD. Most cases of AMD are of the dry type, in which deposits called drusen form under the retina, causing thinning of the retina in the macula area, hence affecting proper function of the macular cells. Visual loss at this stage is gradual, and treatment consists of lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, protection from UV light, and management of one’s cardiovascular health, particularly for conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Dietary supplements may be beneficial in helping to control the disease.
Only about 10% of AMD are the wet type. However, some patients with dry AMD may eventually convert to wet AMD, which is often associated with a more sudden drop in eyesight, caused by leakage and bleeding from abnormal retinal blood vessels at the macular area. Wet AMD requires prompt treatment involving photodynamic treatment, laser or injectable anti-vascular endothelial growth factors, to prevent further damage from bleeding vessels, and irreversible central visual loss from macular scarring.
Regular eye check-ups with macula OCT scan (available at our clinic) and home monitoring with Amsler grid are crucial for patients with AMD.