A Brief Guide to Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Posted on: 25 May 2018

Age-related macular degeneration is an eye condition that is most common in older adults, and which affects the middle part of the vision. It does not usually cause complete blindness, but makes certain activities, such as reading, a lot harder. There is no known cause, though it is more common in those with a family history of the condition. This guide explains macular degeneration in more detail, from the symptoms to treatment and prevention.

Symptoms of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

RNIB explains some of the common symptoms of age-related macular degeneration, including difficulty reading small print, seeing lines as wavy or distorted or vision that is suddenly blurred or unclear. You may also experience gaps in your vision, dark spots in your line of sight or trouble adjusting to the light. These symptoms will be picked up in an eye test, but if you feel that you are experiencing any of these symptoms between your regular eye exams, arrange to see your optometrist as soon as possible.

Diagnosing Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Typically, the condition is diagnosed during a regular eye exam with your optometrist. They will perform a visual acuity exam and look at the back of the eye, and then perform more tests if they suspect macular degeneration. The National Eye Institute explains some of these additional tests in detail, including the fluorescein angiogram to examine your blood vessels and the optical coherence tomography test, which is used to take detailed images of your inner eye. You will then be referred to a specialist to discuss your options. 

Treatment For Age-Related Macular Degeneration

The treatments that are available to you depend on what type of macular degeneration you have been diagnosed with. If you have 'wet' macular degeneration, you will need regular eye injections and occasional light treatments to prevent you from losing any more of your vision, as explained by the NHS. If you have 'dry' macular degeneration, there is no treatment, but your doctors will be able to recommend ways you can change your home and lifestyle to accommodate and slow down your illness. 

Preventing Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Despite age-related macular degeneration being very common, research has shown that living a healthy lifestyle may prevent or slow down the condition. The Macular Society lays out some lifestyle recommendations, including stopping smoking, eating a balanced diet and protecting your eyes from the sun.

Being diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration can be upsetting, but an early diagnosis can be incredibly helpful in preventing further vision loss. If you feel that your vision is changing, you should make an appointment with your optometrist to discuss your symptoms.

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