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There are many forms of macular disease, but age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common, usually affecting people over the age of 50[i]. As we get older, we have a greater risk of developing AMD – around one in every 200 people has AMD at 60, which increases to one in five at 90[ii].

AMD is a long-term, degenerative eye disease that gradually affects a person’s sight, often making it blurry or distorted, or causing gaps or dark spots in central vision. There are two types of AMD, known as ‘dry’ and ‘wet’. Dry AMD is a gradual deterioration of the macula, as the retinal cells die off and are not renewed. The term ‘dry’ does not mean the person has dry eyes in terms of their tear production, just that the condition is not wet AMD. Around 10-15% of people with dry AMD also develop wet AMD[iii].

Wet AMD affects the macula in different ways often causing more sudden and rapid changes in vision. This is often experienced as gaps or dark spots in the centre of a person's sight and objects seem distorted[iv]. In wet AMD, faulty blood vessels grow, leak fluid and blood in the back of the eye and can permanently scar the macula[iv]. If wet AMD isn’t controlled, central vision will gradually get worse, leading to difficulty in everyday activities, such as reading, recognising faces and driving[i].

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

  • Finding bright light glaring and uncomfortable
  • Finding it difficult to adapt when moving from dark to light environments
  • Distorted or blurry vision
  • Straight lines such as door frames may appear distorted or bent
  • Empty gaps or dark spots in central vision
  • 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

If you haven’t been diagnosed with AMD but are experiencing any of the above symptoms, visit your local opticians as soon as possible. If your optometrist suspects wet AMD, you should be referred to a retinal specialist directly[iv].

"If your optometrist suspects wet AMD, you should be referred to a retinal specialist directly"

If you have been diagnosed with wet AMD, it is important to regularly monitor changes in your vision for ongoing and effective management of the disease. By being aware of any changes you can take quick action and work closely with your eye care team who will adjust your treatment as needed[v]. It is also 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.

There is currently no cure for wet AMD[vi], so it is important to be proactive in managing the disease to slow down its progression. Consistent treatment and regular monitoring of fluid and blood in the back of the eye could help slow down the progression of wet AMD[vii]. This along with lifestyle modifications could allow people living with the disease to remain independent for longer[vi]

To learn more about the risks and symptoms of AMD, click here.

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[i] NHS. What is AMD? Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/age-related-macular-degeneration-amd/. Last accessed March 2021.

[ii] Look After Your Eyes. Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). Available at: https://lookafteryoureyes.org/eye-conditions/age-related-macular-degeneration-amd/. Last accessed: March 2021.

[iii] Macular Society. Dry age-related macular degeneration. Available at: https://www.macularsociety.org/macular-disease/macular-conditions/dry-age-related-macular-degeneration/. Last accessed March 2021.

[iv] Macular Society. Wet age-related macular degeneration. Available at: https://www.macularsociety.org/macular-disease/macular-conditions/wet-age-related-macular-degeneration/. Last accessed March 2021.

[v] NICE Guidance. Age-related macular degeneration. Available at: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng82/chapter/Context. Last accessed March 2021.

[vi] All About Vision. Macular degeneration: Prevention and risk factor reduction. Available at: https://www.allaboutvision.com/en-gb/conditions/amd-prevention/. Last accessed March 2021.

[vii] NHS Hull University Hospitals. Treatments for Patients with Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Available at: https://www.hey.nhs.uk/patient-leaflet/treatments-patients-wet-age-related-macular-degeneration/. Last accessed March 2021.

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