What is Macular Degeneration (MD)?
The macula is the central part of the retina, the light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. The retina processes all visual images. It is responsible for your ability to read, recognise faces, drive and see colours clearly. You are reading this brochure using your macula. MD causes progressive macular damage resulting in loss of central vision but the peripheral vision is not affected.
How common is MD?
MD is the leading cause of severe vision loss. One in seven people over the age of 50 years is affected in some way and the incidence increases with age.
What are the types of MD?
There are two types of MD. The Dry form results in a gradual loss of central vision. The Wet form is characterised by a sudden loss of vision and is caused by abnormal blood vessels growing into the retina. Immediate medical treatment is essential if symptoms occur.
What are the risk factors?
MD is thought to be caused by genetic and environmental factors. People over the age of 50 years are at risk. If you smoke or have a family history of MD, your risk of developing the disease is much greater.
Key symptoms may include one or more of the following:
* Diffculty with reading or any other activity that requires fine vision.
* Distortion, where straight lines appear wavy or bent.
* Distinguishing faces becomes a problem.
* Dark patches or empty spaces appear in the centre of your vision.
If you experience any of these symptoms contact your eye care specialist immediately.