Age Related Macular Degeneration
What is AMD?
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of sight loss in the over-55 age group. It causes a gradual loss of central (but not peripheral) vision. Central vision is required for detailed work and for things like reading and driving. Visual loss can occur within weeks, months, or over many years, depending on the type and severity of AMD. There are two types of age related macular degeneration (AMD) – ‘dry’ and ‘wet’. ‘Wet’ AMD can cause acute and severe vision loss. New treatments are currently available which can prevent this in the majority of cases.
What Causes AMD?
The exact causes of AMD are still unknown, although there can be a history of the condition in some families. If close relatives have suffered with sight loss in the past then it is worth having your eyes checked regularly. Studies have shown that there is a definite link between smoking and AMD. Other factors such as high blood pressure and poor diet can also contribute to a greater risk of developing AMD.
Testing for AMD
The Amsler grid is a quick and simple test that you can do to check if you are experiencing any of the early symptoms of AMD
Look at the grid on the screen with a distance of approx12 inches in front of your eyes
Remove varifocals or distance glasses. However if you wear glasses for reading, leave them on.
Cover one eye with your hand and focus with your other eye on the centre dot.
Make sure you can see all four corners of the grid.
Repeat with the other eye.
If areas of the grid appear blurred, distorted or in any way abnormal then you could be displaying the early symptoms of AMD.
If you think you may have early symptoms based on this test then you should visit your doctor or optician within the next week. It is important to repeat this test every couple of months.
Please note this test does not replace an eye examination.
Treatment for AMD
There are a number of treatments for people with wet AMD. They are:
- Intravitreal Injection – a relatively painless injection under local anaesthetic directly into the eye to combat wet AMD. Often a number of injections are needed to stabilise the condition. Various drugs may be used including Avastin and Lucentis.
- Photodynamic Therapy – the use of photosensitive synthetic dyes with cold laser to seal new blood vessels under the retina.
- Laser Photocoagulation – the use of a laser to finely cauterize the ocular blood vessels and has been proven to lower the risk of severe vision loss from these diseases.
Making an Appointment
We are aware that early diagnosis is essential and our Rapid Access Macular Degeneration Service offers speedy appointments.
It is a consultant-led service with four experienced Ophthalmic consultants who specialise in Retinal Eye Health.
Appointments require a referral letter from your GP or Optician. When attending you should bring along all your glasses. Your eyes will be dilated using drops and therefore you will be unable to drive for some hours afterwards, you may need someone to accompany you home.
For details on the best appointment option for you, please contact:
Blackrock Clinic Eye Clinic: 01 206 4541