Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common cause of sight loss amongst older populations in the UK. It’s a condition that affects a small area of the back of the eye (retina) and impacts your central vision.
While AMD very rarely causes blindness, it can lead to vision loss and affect your ability to drive, which is why it’s important to catch it quickly to get the best possible outcomes for your sight.
What is the macular?
The macular is located in the middle of the retina at the back of the eye. It is involved with your central and detailed vision, which you need to enjoy activities such as reading books or watching television.
What is macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration is a disease that causes damage to the macular and affects your central vision. There are two types of macular degeneration:
Dry (slow progressing)
This is the most common form of AMD and is caused by the gradual breakdown of the cells in the macular. This type of AMD progresses slowly, and there aren’t currently any treatments licensed for Dry AMD. However, there are steps you can take to manage the condition.
This second type of AMD is severe and can cause sight loss quite quickly. Wet AMD is the progression of Dry AMD and occurs when blood vessels start to grow and damage the macular. There are treatments for this, such as injecting the eye with anti-vascular endothelial growth factor drugs (Anti-VEGF drugs).
What are the risk factors for AMD?
As its name suggests, age-related macular degeneration is more common amongst older populations (50+). You may also be at increased risk if you are Caucasian, if AMD runs in your family, if you are a smoker, have high blood pressure or diabetes.
What are the symptoms of AMD?
In its early stages, dry macular degeneration may not cause any symptoms at all. However, it can still be picked up during an appointment with an optometrist.
As the condition progresses, you might start to notice your central vision deteriorating (you may notice black spots in your vision) and lines that were previously straight becoming wavy. These symptoms may point to late-stage AMD, which is why it’s important to speak to an optometrist as quickly as possible.
Your AMD treatment questions answered.
Whether you already have a diagnosis of Dry AMD or you have noticed a sudden drop in the quality of your central vision, it’s important to speak to an optometrist as quickly as possible. If they suspect Wet AMD, you will need to be seen by an ophthalmologist.
There aren’t currently any treatments available for Dry AMD. However, there are things you can do to manage the condition. These include taking supplements and making lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, eating healthily and exercising regularly.
Wet AMD is the severe late-stage type of AMD, and there are treatments available that can help to manage the condition.
Anti-VEGF drug injections
Anti-VEGF drugs reduce new blood vessel growth. Wet AMD is caused by the pressure of blood vessels which form behind the macular. Anto-VEGF drugs help to prevent new blood vessels from forming, stabilising your vision.
This procedure can be performed quite quickly and under a local anaesthetic. You may need follow-up appointments, which your ophthalmologist will discuss with you.
There are risks associated with any type of treatment, but these are weighed up against the risk of not intervening.
For Anti-VEGF injections, the risks are mostly associated with the injection itself and can include aching, bruising or a gritty feeling in the eye. You may also experience floaters for up to a week. Rare side effects can include infection, inflammation, detachment of the retina, increased eye pressure and cataracts.
There may be other risks not listed above. Your consultant will discuss these with you ahead of your treatment.
Your consultant will make sure you are prepared ahead of the procedure and will let you know if there is anything specific you need to do or bring with you on the day. You will need to arrange for someone to come with you to the hospital, as you won’t be able to drive, and your vision may be blurred after the treatment.
After an injection, you will be given eye drops to use at home and may need to return for further injections every four weeks.
There isn’t a cure for AMD. While some patients experience improvements to their eyesight after treatments, the primary aim is to prevent further deterioration and stabilise your vision.
You may be covered by private medical insurance, or you may wish to consider spreading the cost of your surgery by opting for a monthly payment plan.
We aim to make our costs as transparent as possible, but it’s important to talk everything through in detail with your consultant at the time of your appointment. Some costs may be paid directly to the hospital, while others, such as your consultant fees, may be paid directly to the consultant.
Issues affecting your eyesight will understandably cause concern, which is why we aim to make sure our patients can see a consultant ophthalmologist as quickly as possible.
With investment in the latest scans and tests, Sulis Hospital provides an excellent environment for eye patients. Our consultant ophthalmologists are highly experienced and regarded, providing the reassurance you get from speaking to a specialist. Get in touch today to book your appointment.
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Type of anaesthetic local
Covered by health insurance? Yes
Can I pay privately? Yes
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