What is macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration is a number of conditions affecting the macula at the back of your eye. It is the leading cause of sight loss in the UK.
The place where light is focused at the back of the eye is the macula. This provides our ability to see in great detail for tasks such as reading, where as the rest of the back of the eye (the retina) provides our peripheral vision.
Therefore, the condition affects your ability to read the newspaper or an email on your computer, but it does not usually affect your ability to walk around as you still have your peripheral/side vision.
What are the causes of AMD?
Although there are many factors involved in the development of AMD, some of the most common causes are noted below:
- AGE – age is the main risk factor for AMD. Cell regeneration reduces as we age, increasing the risk of developing the condition
- SMOKING – smoking damages both the structure of the eye and its blood vessels. Smokers are three times more likely to develop AMD than non-smokers
- HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE – people with high blood pressure are one and a half times more likely to develop AMD than people with normal blood pressure
- EXPOSURE TO SUNLIGHT – UV radiation causes damage to macular cells in the eye, which may contribute to the development of AMD
(SpaMedica, Information booklet for patients, 2019)
The symptoms of AMD
The most common symptom is that straight lines appear wavy, however others include;
- Lines may appear wavy, such as door or window frames
- Difficulty reading, even with reading glasses on
- Feeling like there is a constant smudge in the middle of your vision
- You sometimes see better when moving your head away from the direction of the object of focus
Symptoms may be more noticeable if one eye is covered.