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Macular disease is the biggest cause of sight loss in the UK and age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, is the most common type of the condition[i]. There are two types of AMD, known as ‘dry’ and ‘wet’[ii]. Currently wet AMD is the only form that can be treated[ii].

Risk factors: AMD
The cause of AMD is not known, but there are a number of risk factors believed to be linked to the disease, including:

  • Advanced age: As we age, debris from retinal cell layers in the eye starts to accumulate and our risk of developing AMD increases[iii].
  • Smoking: Smoking is believed to be the single most important controllable risk factor for AMD[iv]. Current smokers are up to four times more likely to develop AMD than non-smokers[v].
  • Being overweight: Maintaining a healthy weight has a wide range of health benefits, including to your eye health. Being overweight or obese could lead to an increased risk of developing AMD[vi].
  • Diet: High consumption of vegetables rich in carotenoids and fatty fish containing omega-3 fatty acids has been shown to be beneficial for those at risk of developing AMD[vii].
  • Diagnosis of dry AMD: It is estimated that 10-15% of people who have dry AMD will develop wet AMD[viii]. If you are diagnosed with dry AMD and experience a rapid change in your vision, get in touch with your eye specialist as soon as possible.
  • Family history of AMD: AMD has a hereditary component[ix], so if someone in your family has been diagnosed with the disease, doing your best to reduce other factors may help reduce your risk.

From a healthy diet to regular exercise, there are a number of ways you can reduce your risk of developing AMD. For more information on lifestyle changes you can make today, click here

Symptoms: AMD[viii],[x]
AMD can affect different people in different ways, and symptoms can also change over time. Some of the common symptoms linked to AMD include:

  • Empty gaps or dark spots in central vision
  • Distorted or blurry vision
  • Finding bright light glaring and uncomfortable
  • Finding it difficult to adapt when moving from dark to light environments
  • Straight lines such as door frames may appear distorted or bent
  • Incorrect perception of colours, often appearing less bright than they used to
  • Objects in front of you appearing to be the wrong size, shape or colour

"AMD can affect different people in different ways, and symptoms can also change over time."

If you haven’t been diagnosed with AMD but are experiencing any of the above symptoms, get in touch with your local opticians as soon as possible. If your optometrist suspects wet AMD, you should be referred to a retinal specialist at the hospital directly[xi]. If you have been diagnosed with wet AMD, it is important to make the most of the time you get with your eye care team, so take this quick questionnaire and download your appointment guide.

For more information on AMD, click here.

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[i] Quartilho, A et al. Leading causes of certifiable visual loss in England and Wales during the year ending 31 March 2013. Eye vol. 30(4), 602-607. 2016.

[ii] Macular Society. Treatments. Available at: Last accessed January 2021.

[iii] Ehrlich R, Harris A, Kheradiya NS, Winston DM, Ciulla TA, Wirostko B. Age-related macular degeneration and the aging eye. Clin Interv Aging. 2008;3(3):473–482. doi:10.2147/cia.s2777.

[iv] Velilla S, et al. Smoking and age-related macular degeneration: Review and update. Journal of Ophthalmology. 2013(3):895147.

[v] Macular Society. Smoking and sight loss. Available at: Last accessed January 2021.

[vi] NHS. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – What is AMD? Available at: Last accessed January 2021.

[vii] Chapman NA, et al. Role of diet and food intake in age-related macular degeneration: a systematic review. Clinical & Experimental Ophthalmology. 2019;47:106-127.

[viii] Macular Society. Dry age-related macular degeneration. Available at: Last accessed January 2021.

[ix] VisionAware. Risk Factors for Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). Available at: Last accessed January 2021.

[x] NHS. Age-related macular degeneration symptoms. Available at: Last accessed January 2021.

[xi] Macular Society. Wet age-related macular degeneration. Available at: Last accessed January 2021.

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