This week (September 23rd to 30th) is AMD Awareness week.
AMD (Age Related Macular Degeneration) is a condition which may affect up to 1 in 10 of the over 50s in Ireland.
There are two types of AMD- dry and wet.
Dry AMD is a progressive atrophy (withering) of the macula, the part of the eye which you use for detailed vision, at the centre of the macula is the fovea, the part of the retina which gives us the most detailed sight- any time you with to study something in detail you rotate your eye so that it’s image is on the fovea. If this area begins to function less effectively, areas of text may appear to become blurred or bits might disappear.
Though there is no cure for Dry AMD, the most common type, lifestyle changes and Multivitamin and mineral supplements have been proven to slow down or even stop this deterioration.
Wet AMD is more serious because the vision can deteriorate quite suddenly. New blood vessels can begin to grow beneath the retina in the macular area. The new vessels are prone to leak, which can cause a symptom of distortion- straight lines appearing bent. The new blood vessels are much weaker than normal ones, and are therefore also prone to bleeding, which can cause scarring of the retina, and irrecoverable loss of vision. If the new blood vessels can be detected early, there are some very effective treatments available to cause them to regress and disappear, but early detection is essential.
Everyone should have their eyes tested every two years, but if there are any symptoms it is essential to be checked as soon as possible- weeks or even days can make a difference!