Age-related Macular Degeneration Screening and Management

What causes Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)?

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a common eye condition and is associated with age. It is the small central area of the retina of the eye that has highest resolution visual acuity in the eye

AMD occurs in ‘dry’ and ‘wet’ forms. In ‘dry’ AMD, there is a slow breakdown of the light-sensitive cells in the macula which may cause blur vision in the affected eye. In ‘wet’ AMD, there is a leakage and bleeding of abnormal blood vessels in the eye that may lead to swelling and damage of the macula. Vision loss may be rapid in the wet form as compared to a dry form.

How do I know if I have AMD?

If you are experiencing one of the following symptoms:

  • Distorted vision
  • Decreasing colour intensity or brightness
  • Shadows or empty area in the centre of vision
  • Objects may appear as the wrong shape or size, smaller or farther away
  • Increasing difficulty adapting to low light levels
  • Increasing vision haziness

What are the risk factors for developing macular degeneration?

  • Gender: AMD occurs especially in whites and females
  • Aging
  • Obesity
  • Family history
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Smoking
  • Poor diet
  • Excessive UV / Sun exposure

How do I prevent Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

  • Have a healthy diet of leafy greens
  • Fish oil may be helpful
  • Sunglasses and hats

How is AMD treated?

Currently ‘Dry’ AMD has no treatment. Instead, early diagnosis by examination by an eye specialist with Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) and Angiography is critical and secondary prevention using Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) formula supplements is employed.  New treatments for ‘Dry’ AMD are being developed but are not yet close to being used in the clinical setting.

The main treatment for ‘Wet’ AMD is intravitreal injections (into the eye) with special drugs that cause the shrinkage of abnormal blood vessels.  In a certain type of ‘wet’ AMD called IPCV where bulbous blood vessels called polyps are present, a special laser treatment with a drug called Visudyne may be used which can be used in combination with intravitreal injections to shrink the abnormal vessels.