What is Macular Degeneration?
Updated: May 27
Macular degeneration, or age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is a condition affecting the cells at the back of our eyes found within the macula. It is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss in people over 60 years old. The result of AMD is the cells in the back of your which begin to stop working, leading to deterioration in your vision - affecting your ability to focus clearly on objects in front of you, to read or to even recognise familiar faces.
The Two Types of Macular Degeneration
There two different types of macular degeneration; dry macular degeneration and wet macular degeneration.
‘Dry’ Macular Degeneration
Most cases of macular degeneration are classed as ‘dry’ AMD. It is a condition where the macula’s layer progressively becomes thinner and so starts to function less and less. Optometrists usually characterise dry AMD by looking for a change in colour of the macula or the presence of small yellow deposits known as drusen. At first, these drusen may not cause any change to your vision but over time may cause a distortion which you may notice when reading or focusing on very close-up objects.
Dry AMD, which composes 90% of all AMD conditions, often does not progress further than colour changes and the presence of drusen.
‘Wet’ Macular Degeneration
The opposing 10% of AMD cases are classed as ‘wet’ AMD. It is usually the case that a patient has dry AMD which then progresses to wet AMD.
Wet AMD is a condition where new blood vessels grow to replace old ones in the choroid layer behind the retina. The problem is, these new vessels are weak and leak fluid, lipids and blood. When these blood vessels leak into the retina, it causes deterioration and distortion of vision – leading to blind spots and loss of central vision.
Can Macular Degeneration be Treated?
Currently, there is no proven treatment to reverse macular degeneration but there are ways in which you can slow down its progression. There is simply no substitute for an appointment with your optometrist however, there are supplements and formulas which can help with this.
Researchers at the National Eye Institute conducted tests with different nutritional supplements to identify whether they could protect against AMD. Found with the Age-Related Eye Disease Studies (AREDS and AREDS2), a daily intake of certain vitamins and minerals can slow down the progression of AMD, particularly those who are in the intermediate stage:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
If you have intermediate or late AMD, you may benefit from supplements such as MacuShield 90 Capsules or MacuShield Gold which have been formulated with the necessary vitamins and minerals listed above.
All in all, most patients with age-related macular degeneration will have the dry form however, it is important that you regularly check in with your optometrist in case it begins to progress.
Although only 10% suffer from wet macular degeneration, there is a serious risk of vision loss. If you are unsure or want to find out more about macular degeneration, book an appointment with us today.