Macular Degeneration (AMD)

What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a sight-threatening disease associated with ageing, which gradually destroys sharp central vision. AMD affects the photoreceptor cells in the macular, which is the central area of the retina, allowing for the ability to see in fine detail.

AMD is broadly classified into two main forms: Wet and Dry AMD

  • Dry AMD shows changes in the pigment layer, as the light-sensitive cells in the macular slowly break down, gradually blurring central vision in the affected eye. Over time, as less of the macular functions, central vision capabilities diminish in the affected eye.
  • Wet AMD may include similar changes to the above description of Dry AMD. Furthermore, in wet AMD, abnormal blood vessels behind the retina start to grow under the macular. These new blood vessels tend to be very fragile and often leak fluid. This, in turn, will alter the position of the macular from its normal position at the rear of the eye. Damage to the macular occurs swiftly, leading to a more rapid loss of central vision.

Who is at risk

Although AMD may occur at middle age, it most often affects the ageing population, and is a leading cause of vision loss in people 60 years of age and older. Other individuals at increased risk include:

  • Smokers
  • Those with circulatory conditions, including high blood pressure
  • The overweight and obese
  • Those suffering from a poor diet – especially one that is deficient in carotenoid rich vegetables such as spinach, peas, tomatoes and curly kale.