Macular degeneration (MD) is a progressive disorder, which is usually age-related. It causes damage to the macula, the central part of the retina which allows us to focus and see details. There are 2 types of MD, wet and dry. The wet type causes a sudden loss in central vision, and the dry type causes a more gradual loss in central vision.
Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in Australia. Early detection is the best way to protect your vision.
Macular degeneration may be recognised by an optometrist at a routine eye test before symptoms, including vision loss, emerge. Signs of MD are sometimes dismissed as a part of getting older. But it’s important to see an optometrist if you experience any of the following symptoms.
• Partial loss of vision
• Blurred or fuzzy vision
• Straight lines appear wavy
• Distorted vision
• Difficulty reading in low light
• Sensitivity to glare
• Seeing spots
There is no cure for MD, but depending on the type and progression, there are treatments which may stop it from getting worse.
There are drugs which can be injected into the eye to help slow or stop the progression of the disease and in some cases improve vision. This treatment is usually successful in the early stages of MD.
Laser therapies are also used to help slow or stop the progression of MD. Your eye specialist will help you choose the treatment that’s best for you.
At this stage there are no treatments available for dry macular degeneration but improving your diet and lifestyle may slow the progression.
It can progress into wet macular degeneration so it’s important to have regular eye tests to monitor any changes.
• Family history (with direct family history there is a 50% risk)
• Smoking (the risk increases 3-4 times with smoking)
Rest assured, early detection is key to managing macular degeneration. Regular eye tests are important for the detection of many eye disorders, including macular degeneration.
If you are under 65 and have no symptoms, it’s recommended you have a comprehensive eye exam every two years or as directed by your optometrist.
If you are 65 or over, a comprehensive eye exam is recommended every year, or more often if advised.