AMD stands for Age Related Macular Degeneration and refers to the degradation of the part of the eye known as the macular which is part of the retina at the back of the eye.
The retina plays an important part in vision. The macular represents a small area of the retina responsible for central vision and fine detail. It is particularly important for reading and determining colour.
When Macular Degeneration occurs in later life, it is often called Age Related Macular Degeneration ( or AMD).
Macular Degeneration is the most common cause of sight deterioration in the over 60's. It is not painful and rarely leads to complete loss of vision. An early diagnosis and immediate treatment ( for the wet variety) is essential to prevent rapid deterioration. If you develop any of the symptoms shown below you should see an ophthalmologist.
Objects can appear distorted. They may appear 'fuzzy' and objects with straight sides may appear crooked.
Some people see things that are not there, and some see lights or are sensitive to light.
A dark spot may appear in the central vision.
Continued deterioration results in a black patch in the central area, peripheral vision ( round the edges) remains unaffected.
Diagnosing early changes
Your optician will look at the back of your eye and may use a test such as the one shown below to look for early changes.
If you need reading glasses, please wear them while you use the Amsler grid. The grid should be placed at the same distance from your eyes as any other reading material would be.
Cover one eye, then focus on the dot in the centre of the grid on the right.
A healthy retina and macular (right) and one effected by AMD (left).
a. Do any of the lines look wavy, blurred, or distorted? (All lines should be straight, all intersections should form right angles, and all the squares should be the same size.)
b. Are there any missing areas or dark areas in the grid?
c. Can you see all corners and sides of the grid?
Don't forget to test both eyes.
VERY IMPORTANT: Any irregularity should be reported to your optician or ophthalmologist.
There are two types of Macular Degeneration and these are classified as 'wet' and 'dry'. The dry variety accounts for 90% of cases is untreatable and onset is slow. Wet macular degeneration is so called because it causes the blood vessels to leak and scar. The onset is rapid however if caught quickly it can sometimes be treated.