To continue our ‘in focus’ series we turn our attention to age-related macular degeneration.
Did you know that age-related macular degeneration doesn’t affect your peripheral vision?
What is age-related macular degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye condition that affects part of the retina called the macula.
While there are different forms of macular conditions, age-related macular degeneration is the most common.
How does AMD affect vision?
Age-related macular degeneration impairs your central vision so you may notice the symptoms when looking straight ahead.
The condition can cause visual distortions, dark spots, gaps or blurry vision.
It’s also common for straight lines to appear wavey – you can use the Amsler Grid to check this.
As the condition progresses it can become difficult to see clearly.
You might notice words missing as you read, straight lines or doorways looking bent or objects in front of you changing shape or colour.
The visual disruptions can make it a struggle to complete daily tasks like eating, watching TV and driving.
The good news is that because AMD only affects central vision, it’s unlikely that you’ll lose all of your sight as peripheral vision usually remains.
Signage can also be beneficial to help a person safely navigate their surroundings.
What are the two types of the condition?
Wet and dry are the two types of age-related macular degeneration.
Both of these names reflect what an optometrist can see inside your eye when examining it.
It’s not because your eyes are watery or dry!
Dry AMD develops slowly and gradually affects your vision, whereas wet AMD develops quickly and can damage your vision within a short period.
Neither types of the condition cause pain or alter the appearance of your eye.
That’s why a sight test is important to help diagnose the condition as you may not always notice the symptoms.
Diagnosing age-related macular degeneration
Until recently, most people with AMD were unaware they had it until their sight was affected.
Nowadays, optometrists can use sophisticated eye scanning machines to help diagnose early AMD.
Diagnosing AMD early is important as treatment’s only effective before the condition causes sight loss.
It’s important to remember that your genes may increase your risk of AMD.
That’s why it’s vital to attend your regular sight test to help preserve your vision.