The retina is a light-sensitive tissue that lines the inside of the back of the eye. It converts light rays into impulses that travel in the optic nerve behind the eye and then to the brain where they are interpreted as the images we see. The macula is the central portion of the retina and is responsible for fine central vision. Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is the commonest cause of legal blindness and central visual loss in the over 50s. It can vary in severity and may be progressive. It does not affect the peripheral vision.
There are two main categories of AMD:
- Dry AMD
This is the commoner form of AMD (80—90%) and is usually less severe than the wet variant. The severity can, however, be quite variable. Some may simply require better lighting and magnification for reading however others may have more severe problems with reading and their central vision. Dry AMD can progress to Wet AMD
- Wet AMD
This is less common but more severe than the dry variant of AMD. It involves the formation of a membrane behind the macula leading to leakage, bleeding and scar tissue formation. It can lead to severe loss of central vision and legal blindness. Thankfully the peripheral vision is not typically affected. The second eye can often also become involved over time (>50% of the time)
There is no effective treatment available for dry AMD however there is some evidence progression can be slowed by stopping smoking and eating a diet rich in green leafy vegetables. Dietary supplements are also available in this regard.
The treatment of wet AMD often involves the injection of a drug into the eye. This is usually an agent known as anti-VEGF (anti-vascular endothelial growth factor), as VEGF is the mediator responsible for the membrane formation (and as such, leakage) under the macula. These injections can often stabilize and sometimes improve the vision, however injections are often required on a regular basis over a prolonged period of time.
Steamboat Eye Clinic in Limerick specialise in Age Related Macular Degeneration treatments and if you would like to arrange an appointment, contact our Eye Clinic on 061 310379.