Many forms of macular degeneration
There are many forms of macular disease,
including age-related macular degeneration or
AMD. This usually affects people over 60 but can
happen earlier. In the UK around 600,000 people
are affected by AMD – the most common cause of
sight loss in the developed world. About half are
registered as visually impaired.
Greater risk as we age
The older we are the greater our risk of developing
the condition. Around one in every 200 people
has AMD at 60. However by the age of 90 it
affects one person in five. We are all living longer
so the number of people affected is increasing.
The Two Forms of AMD
There are two distinct forms of AMD Dry and Wet
Dry AMD is a gradual deterioration of the macular as the retinal cells die off and are not renewed.
The term dry does not mean the person has dry
eyes, just that the condition is not wet AMD.
There is currently no treatment for dry AMD.
The progression of dry AMD varies but in most
people it develops over many months or years.
Often people carry on as normal for some time.
Wet macular degeneration develops when abnormal blood vessels grow into the macula.
These leak blood or fluid which leads to scarring
of the macula and rapid loss of central vision.
Wet AMD can develop very suddenly. It can now
be treated if caught quickly.
Fast referral to a hospital specialist is essential.
A good diet is important for eye health because
certain nutrients protect the body from damaging
substances called oxidants. In the eye oxidants
may contribute to the development of AMD
because they speed up cell degeneration.
Antioxidants like Vitamins A, C and E and a group
of substances called carotenoids reduce this
damaging effect. Two important carotenoids for
people with AMD are lutein and zeaxanthin,
Also eating two to four servings a week of vegetables
high in lutein and zeaxanthin may help reduce the
risk of AMD. Some experts recommend eating
at least 10mg of lutein a day.
Information supplied by the Macular Society
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