What is Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration is a painless eye condition that causes loss of central vision. You use your central vision during activities such as reading, writing and driving. Macular degeneration occurs when the part of your eye that is responsible for central vision (the macula) is unable to function as effectively as it used to. Macular degeneration doesn’t affect peripheral vision (outer vision, sometimes known as “side vision”), so the condition won’t make you completely blind. At Zacks eye clinic in central London, we take OCT scans to examine macula and monitor macula health.
Types of Macular Degeneration
There are two types of macular degeneration, dry and wet. Dry macular degeneration affects your eyes gradually. Although there is no treatment for dry macular degeneration, there are ways you can learn to cope with it. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, not smoking, and dietary supplements such as ‘Preservision’ or ‘Macushield gold’ can help to slow it down in certain people. Wet macular degeneration refers to fluid or blood leaking under the macula, which can cause rapid visual loss. Wet macular degeneration usually responds well to treatment, in the form of injections and requires urgent referral. At Zacks eye clinic in central London, we use OCT scans to differentially diagnose and monitor the different types of macula degeneration. We also encourage patients to monitor their vision themselves using an Amsler grid (see below).
Who is Affected by Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration most commonly affects people over 50 years of age. Macular degeneration in older people is referred to as age-related macular degeneration. Approximately 2% of people over 50 years of age have age-related macular degeneration, increasing to about 20% in those over 85 years of age. In fact, in older people, age-related macular degeneration is the most common cause of visual impairment. Additional risk factors include smoking, diet, family history and vascular disease. Occasionally macular degeneration can affect young people, but this would usually be secondary to rare genetic conditions.