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Macular degeneration viewpoint

What is Macular Degeneration?

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Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in the UK. According to the Macular Society, it affects more than 1.5 million people in the UK, and usually occurs as a result of getting older.

What is macular degeneration?

Macular Degeneration illustration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye condition which leads to the loss of central vision over time. The macular is a part of your eye that contains cone cells that register light and is responsible for your central vision. Macular degeneration occurs when these cone cells begin to stop working. This can lead to blurry vision, muted colours, and difficulty recognising faces.

Who is likely to suffer from macular degeneration?

Typically, women are more likely to suffer from AMD, although it’s not known why. It is also more prevalent among older people, with an estimated 10% of over 65s suffering from some form of AMD.

Symptoms of macular degeneration

Depending on the type of macular degeneration, you may experience symptoms either gradually, or over the course of a few days. You may experience loss of central vision, causing difficulties with seeing objects directly in front of you, whilst still maintaining good peripheral vision. This can eventually lead to a complete blank spot in your central vision.

Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Dry age-related macular degeneration (DAMD) occurs as a result of a build-up of fatty proteins in the eyes, called drusen. This usually happens due to age, therefore DAMD is more common in older people. Although vision gradually deteriorates over several years, DAMD develops into wet age-related macular degeneration for one in 10 people.

Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Wet age-related macular degeneration (WAMD) is more serious than DAMD and can cause vision loss within just a few days. This form of macular degeneration happens due to the eye growing new blood cells to compensate for the macular not working properly. The cells can cause bleeding and scarring, severely damaging vision.

How to reduce your risk of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Healthy salad

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What about macular degeneration in younger people?

If you are under the age of 50 and are experiencing macular degeneration, it is likely to be caused by a genetic disorder. Some forms of macular degeneration found in younger people include Best’s Disease, Stargardt Disease and Myopic macular degeneration.

How to cope with AMD

Losing your sight can be very worrying. You may wish to seek help, advice, or reassurance from charities such as the Royal National Institute for Blind People (RNIB) to help you through this difficult time. While you may feel alone if you suffer from this condition, it is not uncommon and there are many options available to you. By registering as partially sighted, you may be able to receive money from the government to compensate for any financial loss. Social services in your area should be able to guide you on mobility issues and there are many ways to make the most of your remaining sight.