Age related macula degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness for over 40s in Australia.
The macula is the part of the retina that we use to see straight ahead and fine details. The retina is the sensory tissue at the back of the eye. (Look at the diagram below)
The macula is only around 1.5mm but is responsible for day to day activities such as recognising faces, reading, driving or any other task requiring us to see fine detail. Therefore, macula degeneration refers to progressive damage at your macula.
What are the types of macula degeneration?
Macula degeneration is either described as dry (non neovascular) or wet (neovascular). Neovascular refers to the growth of new blood vessels, where they are not supposed to be.
Dry macula degeneration is the most common and causes gradual loss of central vision. Wet is rarer and can cause sudden changes to the vision. Dry can progress to wet.
Who is at risk?
The main risk factors are:
- Age > 65
- Family history/genetics
What treatments are available?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for macula degeneration. Treatments only attempt to reduce the progression. For dry macula degeneration, the Age-Related Eye Disease Studies (AREDs) showed a 20-25% reduction in risk of progression of the disease through diet supplementation.
Wet macula degeneration requires injections into the eye to remove any growth of blood vessels at the macula. These are ongoing and aim to maintain the vision for as long as possible.
What can I do?
A regular check up at your optometrist or ophthalmologist can determine any presence of macula degeneration.
Before undertaking any supplements for your macula, a consultation with your doctor should be undertaken.