Every year there is a national (AMD) week of attempting to raise awareness of the eye condition AMD (Age related Macular Degeneration).
There are two types of AMD. Neither form is curable at this time, but the vision in Dry AMD will slowly deteriorate over a number of years, and there is much evidence that eye health multivitamin supplements are very effective at slowing this condition down.
The more dramatic form of AMD is the exudative (Wet) form. This type of macular degeneration is caused by new blood vessels which grow underneath the retina. These vessels are leaky and prone to bursting. The leaking causes retinal swelling and visual distortion. The rupture of one of these blood vessels – a haemorrhage, causes the retina to be damaged into a scar which does not function. This means that the central straight ahead vision is irreparably damaged. This is the vision you require to read, drive, see the television and recognise a face, so it is a great loss to those who do not have it.
If Wet AMD is detected early enough it can be treated with intra-ocular injections of a drug which causes these abnormal vessels to “wither away”, and reduce their “leakiness”. This is likely to be an ongoing management, probably indefinitely, but it does significantly help control this condition. There are other possible treatments also, but this type is the most commonly used at the moment, as it is the most effective.
But here is the thing – A National Week of AMD awareness is not sufficient to deal with this devastating eye condition.
Neither is a regular sight test!!
Most eye conditions will be detected during a routine test, but Wet AMD can come on so rapidly that we would really need to be checking everyone every 3 weeks to exclude this possibility – obviously not possible. So you really do need to do this for yourself!
I am aware of many people who come in for a test, as they “need better glasses”, but it only becomes apparent to them (and me) that there has been a significant deterioration in their sight in one eye only. As they see as a pair, they were completely unaware of this significant drop in one – though we do not see twice as good with two eyes – 2 eyes are about 1.44 times better than one. But why really does it need the Optometrist to compare your eyes individually?
A particular gent I recall was very aware of Wet AMD as it is common in his family. He booked in not long (a couple of months) after he had had an eye test, as he had noticed that one of his eyes had changed – he noticed that a horizontal line had a very small kink in it in one eye. He was referred to see a specialist in Dublin, where the condition was unfortunately diagnosed in that eye. He had a round of three injections, and at his next scan, the specialist advised that the eye which was treated had responded well, but the condition was now also in the other eye. – It comes on that quickly!
So what to do?
Just compare your eyes! Ideally put an Amsler grid on the fridge door, but failing that, just compare the vision in the two eyes. If you can’t wink / close one at a time, use your hand to alternately cover the right and left eyes to compare them. If there is a difference between them, but there always was, (maybe you have a weaker eye), get to know what is normal for you? This way you should be able to detect the very earliest possible signs of this problematic disease, and the sooner it is detected, the sooner it can be treated, which is of the essence.
Once a week, be it the Sky guide, the Saorview guide, the newspaper or an Amsler grid, compare your eyes. I would also advise clients that they should come in if they are unsure if they have an issue – please do not wait until you are sure – this problem could be more advanced if you wait until you are sure!!
If you want to you can download an Amsler Grid Here.