Macular degeneration is a painless condition that affects the macular causing progressive loss of central vision.The macula is a small part of the retina at the back of the eye and it is important because it helps us to focus on objects centrally, and provides high visual acuity. Macular degeneration is the most common reason for people in the UK to be registered blind. Age-Related Macular Degeneration, it is more likely to occur as you get older and is more common in females. Other risk factors include family history and smoking.
The common symptoms of macular degeneration are:
Blurred spots near the centre of our vision. This can either be one spot which grows steadily bigger, or it can involve lots of spots around the centre of our vision.
Objects not appearing as bright as they used to
The onset of symptom varies from person to person. For some the spread is rapid, others it occurs so slowly people do not realise they have it for some time. Macular degeneration does not cause complete blindness, but can make it impossible to see centrally. This obviously impacts everyday activities.
Though age is the biggest factor of macular degeneration, most suffers are over 60, there are other factors which play their part to. They are:
Family history: You are more likely to suffer with if your relatives have done or do
Ethnicity: White people are more likely to contract the disease
Smoke?: If you like a cigarette or two, then you are more likely to develop macular degeneration
Macular degeneration has no cure. Evidence shows however, that a healthier lifestyle reduces the risk of contracting or slowing down the progression of macular degneration if you have it. These are the most important factors to try and avoid macular degeneration, or slow down its progression:
Quit smoking: Reducing the amount you smoke will make a difference to the onset and progression of the condition. Less is more
Regular exercise: Exercise is important to our health overall, and our eyesight is no exception
Better diet: Keeping cholesterol and blood pressure low is a factor in macular degeneration prevention and slowing its progression.
What to do if you have noticed blurring in your central vision
If you have started to notice a blurred spot or spots at the centre of your vision then you should visit your optometrist today. They will put you through the following tests:
Visual acuity tests: This will measure your distance and near vision Ophthalmoscopic eye exam: Here the retina at the back of your eye is put under scrutiny and a special instrument an ophthalmoscope is used to look for signs of macular degeneration.
Amsler grid: The grid contains a series of lines. Should the lines appear wavy or blurred, then this could be a sign of macular degeneration.
Optical coherence tomography (OCT): As ultrasound uses sound waves to map living tissue, OCT uses light to do the same job. During the examination, your eyes are dilated and the OCT machine is used to take highly detailed images of your eyes.
Regular Eye Tests
We all should be undergoing regular eye tests and these should become more frequent as we get older. If you have not had one for some time, or you have noticed a change with your eyesight, then contact us here and make an appointment with your closest clinic.
The sooner you do the better