The retina of the eye contains millions of light-sensitive nerve cells that convert light into signals that are sent to the brain. A small central area of the retina is called the macula. It is a highly sensitive area that produces finely detailed and colour images in the centre of the field of vision.
Macular degeneration occurs when the macula becomes damaged. When the normal function of the macula is disrupted, sight in the centre of the field of vision is affected.
Macular degeneration usually affects both eyes with visual loss being restricted to the central part of the vision. Peripheral vision usually remains in good condition.
The most common form is related to age. When macular degeneration occurs later in life, it is referred to as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD occurs in people who typically are older than 50 years and especially in those over 65.
AMD is fairly common. About 15 in every 100 people older than 50 have early signs of AMD. The main risk factors appear to include:
- Increasing age
- A family history of AMD.
The two types of macular degeneration are 'dry' and 'wet'. Dry macular degeneration develops very slowly, usually over a period of year. In the wet type, new blood vessels leak blood and fluid that build up under the retina.
- Straight lines appear wavy
- Vision appears blurred or fuzzy
- Difficulty in recognising faces
- Blurred or blind spot in the centre of vision.
If you have any of the above symptoms, contact us urgently. AMD does not cause pain in the eye.
We would like to acknowledge RANZCO and Mi-tec Medical Publishing for allowing us to use the above information. The complete pamphlet is available from us and will be provided prior to surgery.