Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the result of damage to the light-sensitive cells in the central part of the retina which are responsible for fine, detailed vision called the macula. It is non-reversible and is the most common cause of severe, permanent visual loss in the UK. There are two types of macular degeneration – ‘dry’ and ‘wet’ (hyperlink to wet AMD section).
Dry macular degeneration is the most commonly diagnosed type: it accounts for 90% of cases and tends to develop more slowly, with gradual sight loss. As the disease progresses, the layers of the macula slowly become thinner, resulting in reduced function and central visual loss. However, peripheral vision is usually unaffected. People with dry macular degeneration can sometimes go on to develop wet macular degeneration later on.
What are the Symptoms?
What are the Causes?
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is multifactorial, and the exact cause is not fully understood. Age appears to be the biggest risk factor with diagnosis usually after the age of 65yrs. It affects women more frequently than men and a number of genes have been discovered but it’s not always inherited. Smoking is a significant risk factor, as are obesity, diet and UV exposure.
What is the Diagnosis?
Symptoms usually develop gradually in one or both eyes. See a Laser Vision specialist if you experience a change in central vision with loss of fine detail, colour perception or visual distortion. There is currently no treatment for dry macular degeneration. Regular check-ups and tests can help monitor changes and in some cases there is evidence that diet or supplements may help slow down the progression of macular damage. Vitamins A, C and E, zinc, copper and lutein have been associated with possibly slowing dry macular degeneration. Specifically formulated supplements are available, but further investigation into the role nutrition plays is needed.