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What is AMD and how do you avoid it?

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease that can blur your central vision. It happens when aging causes damage to the macula — the part of the eye that controls sharp, straight-ahead vision. The macula is part of the retina (the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye).

AMD is a common condition  - it’s a leading cause of vision loss for older adults. AMD doesn’t cause complete blindness, but losing your central vision can make it harder to see faces, read, drive, or do close-up work like cooking or fixing things around the house. 

AMD happens very slowly in some people and faster in others. If you have early AMD, you may not notice vision loss for a long time. That’s why it’s important to have regular eye exams to find out if you have AMD. We use an Optomap camera (which doesn’t need dilation drops) to take fantastic pictures of almost the whole retina. We also have an OCT which can be helpful in diagnosing small changes in dry and early wet AMD.

AMD always starts as dry AMD with small white spots of cell debris around the macula. These spots can build up until they rupture blood vessels causing wet AMD.

AMD is heavily linked to pollution in the home from cigarettes, wood and coal fires, candles etc. as well as external pollution. Vaping is also likely to be a cause as nicotene affects the blood vessels in the same way as cigarettes.The are several ways of slowing AMD:

·        Improving your diet - lutein and zeaxanthin from vegetables have been shown to help and are also available in supplements which have been shown to reduce AMD progress by 20%

·        Wearing UV/blue light blocking lenses (like Transitions) as AMD is linked to sun exposure. People who live at high altitude are more likely to have AMD due to more UV exposure

·        Keeping your heart in good condition keeps all the little blood vessels in your eye in top shape too making them less likely to leak

·        If vessels do leak there are anti-VEGF injections which can seal them again but these cost £1,000 a shot and there is usually residual damage afterwards.

Finally, Dame Kate Bingham (who kickstarted and pushed the world’s first AstraZeneca Covid vaccine)  has an exciting new research project underway called  Eyebio. This project is creating vaccines which will protect against AMD and Diabetic Retinopathy - the two major causes of blindness. Let’s hope she’s as successful this time.Feel free to talk to any of our practice team about how we can help you if you are suffering from AMD. Please call us on 0117 9735929 or come in and see us. One of our team will be happy to help.


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