Macular Degeneration occurs when the central area of the retina, called the Macular is damaged most commonly due to age. The disease causes progressive, painless loss of central vision, affecting the ability to see fine detail, drive, read and recognise faces. Although there is no cure, there are treatment options that can slow down the disease progression, depending on the stage and type of the disease (wet or dry). The earlier the disease is detected, the more vision the patient is likely to retain.
In most cases, visual loss occurs gradually and affects the central part of patient's vision, meaning that patients can still see to the sides from each eye.
It is recommend that persons over the age of 50, schedule an eye examination with an optometrist or ophthalmologist every one to two years to look for the earliest signs of AMD before any vision loss has occurred.
Treatment options, especially for early and dry Macular Degeneration, include not smoking and maintaining a healthy diet.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for AMD. The aim of treatment is to prevent the condition from getting worse. The earlier the disease is detected, the more vision the patient is likely to retain. Treatments include:
- Anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) drugs – to reduce leakage and bleeding from new blood vessels in the macula
- Photodynamic therapy – uses a light-sensitive chemical and some gentle laser to destroy abnormal blood vessels
- Laser photocoagulation – uses a laser beam close off abnormal blood vessels.