This month, we are raising awareness of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision. Those with AMD experience central vision problems. Even though people with AMD can lose vision in the central part of their eyes, they rarely become blind from it. The risk factors for AMD include being older than 50, smoking, having high blood pressure, and eating a diet high in saturated fat.
As we age, our risk of developing the condition increases. AMD affects one out of every 200 people over the age of 60. At 90, one in five people is affected. As we live longer, the number of people affected by AMD is growing.
There are two types of AMD – dry and wet.
Dry age-related macular degeneration
Dry age-related macular degeneration (Dry AMD) is the gradual destruction of the macula as the retinal cells die off without being replaced.
Wet age-related macular degeneration
A wet form of age-related macular degeneration (Wet AMD) develops when abnormal blood vessels grow into the macula. They cause the macula to scar and result in rapid loss of central vision due to leakage of blood or fluid.
Age-related macular degeneration risk factors
Although AMD is not known to have a specific cause, a number of factors contribute to its development.
There is a strong association between age and risk. Cell regeneration declines with age. As a result, the condition is more likely to occur in older people.
You are more likely to develop AMD if you have a family history of the disease.
In addition to damaging blood vessels, cigarettes damage the eye’s structure. Compared to non-smokers, smokers are four times more likely to develop macular degeneration. The risk of developing AMD is twenty times higher if you smoke and also have a specific gene for AMD. If you stop smoking after developing AMD, you could reduce the risk of your eye condition worsening.
AMD may be caused by a diet low in fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, which protect the body from free radical damage. Free radicals are unstable molecules that damage cells or prevent them from repairing themselves.
Consuming alcohol destroys antioxidants. Diabetes, obesity, and a diet high in sugars and hydrogenated or saturated fats are also risk factors for AMD.
High blood pressure increases the risk of AMD one and a half times compared to normal blood pressure.
Both men and women are affected by AMD. Women tend to live longer than men, so they tend to be diagnosed with AMD more frequently.
Look after your eyes
By using our 3D Optical Coherence Tomography system (3D OCT Scanner) we can detect the early signs of AMD. It is a complex technology used to measure the eye and particularly the layers of the retina. The retina is the light-sensitive area at the back of the eye.
Rather like an MRI or CAT scan, OCT scans provide a 3D image of the eyes. A similar test to an ultrasound scan, this one uses light rather than sound to look through the retina layers, giving us a 3D view of the inside of your eye.
Similar to an ultrasound scan, this test uses light rather than sound to look through the retina layers, giving us a 3D view of the inside of your eye. With our OCT scanner, our optometrists can detect, sometimes for the first time, problems within your eye that could not easily be seen before.
OCT scans let us see underneath the surface of the eye, which tells us so much more and can help prevent loss of vision if changes are spotted early.
Sadly this service is not available with an NHS sight test, but if you qualify for an NHS sight test and want to protect your vision for the future we would recommend adding an OCT scan to your test. The cost is just £25.00 and if nothing else will give you peace of mind.
For more information or practical advice on AMD, call the Advice and Information Service at 0300 3030 111 or email email@example.com.