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Learn more about age related macular degeneration (AMD) and how Arnott can help.
What is age-related macular degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects a tiny part of the retina at the back of your eye, called the macula. AMD causes changes to the macula, which leads to problems with your central vision. AMD doesn’t cause pain, and doesn’t lead to the total loss of sight.
AMD affects the vision you use when you’re looking straight at something, for example when you’re reading, looking at photos or watching television. Your central vision can become distorted or blurry, and over time, a blank patch may appear in the centre of your vision.
Why have I developed AMD?
The exact cause for AMD is not known. Some things are thought to make it more likely you’ll develop AMD, such as:
• Your age: AMD develops as people grow older and while it’s most often seen in those aged over 65, it can also develop in people who are in their forties and fifties.
• Your gender: more women have AMD than men, probably because women tend to live longer than men.
• Your genes: certain genes have been found which seem to be linked to the development of AMD in some people. This has been discovered by looking at families with more than one member who has AMD. However, not all AMD is thought to be inherited.
• Smoking: smoking greatly increases your risk of developing AMD – you can reduce this risk if you stop smoking.
• Sunlight: some studies have suggested that exposure to high levels of sunlight (particularly the UV light contained in sunlight) throughout your life may increase your risk of developing AMD, but this has not been proven. However, wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from the UV light in sunlight is a good idea for everyone throughout their life.
• What you eat: a number of studies have looked at diet as a risk factor for developing AMD. At the moment, there isn’t an agreement on how much of a risk factor diet can be.
In general, protecting your eyes from the sun, eating a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and stopping smoking may all help to keep your eyes as healthy as possible.
Unfortunately, because the exact cause of AMD is not known, you may develop AMD even if you don’t have any of these risk factors.
What are the symptoms and when should I seek help?
Everyone can have slightly different symptoms, but usually the first thing you’ll notice is that it’s harder to see detail, such as small print. You may find that your vision has a small blurred area in the centre. Straight lines may look distorted or wavy, or like there’s a little bump in them. You may also find that you’re more sensitive to bright light.
You should have your eyes tested by an optometrist (also known as an optician) if you experience any of these in one or both eyes:
• You have difficulty reading small print despite wearing reading glasses.
• Straight lines start to look wavy or distorted.
• Your vision isn’t as clear as it used to be.
Your optometrist can measure any changes in your vision and look at the back of your eye. If they find any changes to your macula or any cause for concern, they’ll send a letter to your GP or sometimes directly to the hospital.
your optometrist’s letter, the hospital will judge how quickly you need to be seen by the ophthalmologist (also known as a hospital eye doctor), and arrange an appointment for you.
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