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Macular Degeneration

  • What is Macular Degeneration?

    Macular Degeneration is a chronic eye condition that causes loss of central vision because of damage to the macula in the central part of the retina. Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is most common in people older than 50 years. The condition is more common in Western countries than in Asia. As the central part of your vision is affected, you may find it difficult to read or to recognise faces, and driving will be affected. However, your vision outside the central area of your gaze (peripheral vision) will allow you to continue with other daily activities.

    There are two types of Macular Degeneration:

    • Dry Macular Degeneration is characterised by yellow fatty deposits (drusen) in the retina —You may have some vision loss (sometimes there is a blind spot in the central portion of your vision), but dry macular degeneration rarely causes severe vision impairment or blindness
    • Wet Macular Degeneration is a more serious form of the disease, in which new blood vessels grow underneath the retina — The new vessels may leak blood or fluid, causing your vision to become wavy or distorted, and you may have blind spots

    Although Wet Macular Degeneration can cause severe vision loss, it rarely leads to total blindness and you will retain some side (peripheral) vision.

  • The causes of Macular Degeneration include:

    • Age
    • Family history
    • High blood pressure (Hypertension)
    • High cholesterol levels
    • Lack of certain vitamins and minerals (antioxidants)
    • Long-term unprotected exposure of the eye to sunlight
    • Smoking tobacco
  • There are few symptoms of early macular degeneration. As the disease progresses, you may experience:

    • Difficulty reading, watching tv and recognising faces
    • Loss of central vision
    • One, or more, blind spots
    • Straight lines appearing wavy
  • There are several treatments for macular degeneration:

    • Drug Therapy — Drugs can be injected into the eye to seal off any new blood vessels
    • Laser Photocoagulation — A surgical procedure involving the application of a hot laser
    • Photodynamic Therapy — A low-energy (cold) laser and a light-sensitive drug are used to seal off any new blood vessels
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