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Age Related Macular Degeneration is one of Australias leading causes of vision loss. It is becoming far more frequent as our population ages, and as we get better at diagnosing and treating the disease.
Macular Degeneration is the slow destruction of the central part of the retina. No one knows the exact cause but there is a much higher risk in those with a family history, poor diet and cardiovascular disease.
There are two broad types, Dry and Wet AMD.
In Dry AMD there is a gradual degeneration of the central retina. Patients slowly lose central sight and is associated with fatty deposits under the retina, scarring of the fine retinal tissues, and gradual loss of the cells that change light into electricity.
There is no reliable treatment for dry MD but there are some measure that can help. Maintain a healthy diet, reduce cholesterol, control Blood pressure, regulate Diabetes and do not smoke. There are supplements such as eyevite, macuvision and the like, and they can be helpful in certain types of degeneration.
Wet MD is where the degeneration is associated with new blood vessels that leak and bleed. This type of MD can cause rapid vision loss, with total loss of central vision in only a few days to weeks. Early signs are declining vision and distortion.
Treatment of wet MD is available with the injection of medication in to the eye to stop the blood vessels from leaking. This can help retard vision loss, and in some cases, improve vision ( although that is not the aim).
Investigation involves macular scans, photos and angiography.
Treatment needs to be initiated quickly to reduce the impact on vision.