Age-Related Macula Degeneration

Age-Related Macula Degeneration

Macular degeneration also called age-related macular degeneration (AMD or ARMD) is a vision change that can gradually create blurry vision over time. AMD affects the macula, the small central area of the retina that maintains our sharpest vision. The health of the macula determines our ability to read, recognise faces, drive, watch television, use a digital device, and perform any other detailed visual task.

How AMD Affects Vision

If you have AMD, you lose the ability to see fine details, both close-up and at a distance. This affects only your central vision. Your side, or peripheral, vision usually remains normal. For example, when people with AMD look at a clock, they can see the clock’s outline but cannot tell what time it is; similarly, they gradually lose the ability to recognise people’s faces.

Types of AMD

There are two types of AMD.

About 75% of people have a form called “early” or “dry” AMD, which develops when there is a build-up of waste material under the macula and thinning of the retina at the macula. Most people with this condition have near normal vision or milder sight loss.

A minority of patients with early (dry) AMD can progress to the vision-threatening forms of AMD called late AMD.
The most common form of late AMD is “exudative” or “wet” AMD. This occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow underneath the retina. These unhealthy vessels leak blood and fluid, which can prevent the retina from working properly.

Eventually the bleeding and scarring can lead to severe permanent loss of central vision, but the eye is not usually at risk of losing all vision (going ‘blind’) as the ability to see in the periphery remains.

There is a rarer form of late AMD called geographic atrophy, where vision is lost through severe thinning or even loss of the macula tissue without any leaking blood vessels.

Treatment of AMD

Your consultant specialist will discuss your personalised treatment programme with you. However, below outlines the current treatment options available for AMD.

Here, we provide intravitreal injections (injections into the eye) for wet AMD using a medicine called anti VEGF medicines which, when injected into the eye on a regular basis, can stop the abnormal blood vessels growing, leaking and bleeding under the retina.

Most people with wet AMD need to have these injections several times a year. Laser treatment is also available for AMD, but is not effective for most cases.

There is currently no treatment for dry AMD.