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Age Related Macular Degeneration

The macula is a highly sensitive area of the retina that produces detailed colour images in the centre of the field of vision. When the macula is damaged, this is referred to as macular degeneration. Macular degeneration will usually affect both eyes, however it may produce symptoms in one eye first. If not treated and progresses into its late stages, it can result in severe visual impairment – in most cases visual loss is in the central part of vision.

The most common type of macular degeneration is Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), usually occurring in people older than 50. When AMD complications threaten sight and cause substantial disturbances of vision the condition is then called “late AMD”.

Types of Late Age-related Macular Degeneration

There are two different types of AMD:

  • Dry – this is a condition that develops slowly, usually over some years. Cells in the macula die in small patches, which causes images to fade and become unfocused, and small pieces of the image go missing. 4 out of 10 people who suffer from AMD have the dry condition
  • Wet – wet age related macular degeneration causes more severe and rapid vision loss than dry AMD. Wet AMD occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow from the back of the eye (choroid layer) into the macular, and these vessels leak and bleed. Scar tissue then forms around the macula

Age-related Macular Degeneration Treatment

Unfortunately there is no effective treatment for dry AMD. However, significant advances have been made in the treatment of wet AMD.

The aim of the treatment of wet AMD is to prevent the condition getting any worse, however it doesn’t restore lost vision. Different types of treatment for this condition include:

  • Anti-Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (Anti-VEGF) drugs – this course of action is used to prevent the formation of new blood vessels in the macula
  • Photodynamic therapy – this treatment uses a chemical that is light-sensitive to destroy the abnormal blood vessels in the macula
  • Laser photocoagulation – using a laser beam to cauterise the abnormal blood vessels

Before having treatment it is important that your ophthalmologist is aware of your medical history, and that you understand the risks, limitations and benefit of treatment. If you are suffering from age-related macular degeneration and would like more information on treatment please contact us today on (02) 9868 2333.