Macular Degeneration

What is Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration is a degenerative eye disease that affects the retina, which is a layer inside the eye. It leads to progressive loss of central vision, and is one of the leading causes of legal blindness in Australia.

A layer called Retinal Pigment Epithelium separates the retina from the underlying layer and blood supply, and it is the degradation of these cells that result in Macular Degeneration.

Vision loss in Macular Degeneration can sometimes be reversed, however in the majority of cases there is permanent damage to central vision. This is the reason why early detection is most critical, and yearly eye examinations for patients over 50 years old with a history of smoking and family member with Macular Degeneration is essential.

Symptoms

There are two types of Macular Degeneration; dry and wet. The dry form results in gradual loss of central vision while the wet form is characterised by sudden loss of vision in either one or both eyes. Wet macular degeneration can happen in just one eye.

Sudden changes in vision can also result in straight lines appearing wavy or distorted, and not being able to read properly.

Treatment

Early detection of the condition is critical to maintaining eye sight. Treatment differs between the two types of Macular Degeneration.

Dry

Currently there are no medical treatments available, however research is being conducted across the world exploring treatment options. Changes to diet and lifestyle certainly have benefits in eye health, and may slow progression of the disease. Our Optometrists are always up to date with advice for you.

Dry Macular Degeneration can turn into the Wet form, therefore if deterioration in vision is noted then immediate consultation with an eye health professional is required.

Wet

Medical treatments for Wet Macular Degeneration are available to stabilise the disease and prevent heavy damage to vision. Unfortunately this disease is not cured with treatment.

Wet Macular Degeneration refers to leaking and growth of blood vessels below the macular (hence “wet”) which results in severe vision loss if left untreated. The most common treatment is to inject a drug into the eye that prohibits or stunts the growth of these vessels.