Macula Degeneration

Macular Degeneration (MD) is the name given to a group of degenerative diseases of the retina that cause progressive, painless loss of central vision, affecting the ability to see fine detail, drive, read and recognise faces.

Although there is no cure for MD, there are treatment options that can slow down its progression, depending on the stage and type of the disease. The earlier the disease is detected, the more vision you are likely to retain.

Age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, is the most common cause of vision loss in people over the age of 65. In its more advanced stages, AMD will cause patients to have a very noticeable decrease in their ability to see "sharply", or use focused vision, which is the type of vision required for reading or watching television.

Your retina contains an array of photosensitive cells that line the back of your eye. The light falling onto these cells in the retina is transformed into electrical signals which are transmitted to the brain centres that process and interpret them.

The most concentrated collection of photosensitive cells in your retina, including those that enable critical colour and fine detail vision, are found in the eye's central zone in an area called the macula.

Macular degeneration is an imprecise historical name given to that group of diseases that causes sight-sensing cells in the macular zone of the retina to malfunction or lose function and results in loss of vital central or detail vision.

Much more rarely, younger people, including infants and young children, develop macular degeneration, and they do so in clusters within families, because their disorders are inherited, caused by genetic differences. These types of macular degeneration are collectively called Juvenile Macular Degeneration (JMD).

AMD can be diagnosed by looking at the back of the eye with an ophthalmoscope. Before you notice any changes, the Optometrist is able to detect both pigment clusters within the centre of the retina and drusen, which are yellow whitish residues which can be found along the retina. In the later stages new blood vessels can be seen. By means of fluorescent angiography these new blood vessels can be depicted most clearly. In this procedure fluorescent dye is injected into the blood circulation and with the help of special cameras its distribution within the retina can be observed.

At this time there is no known cure for macular degeneration. In some cases, macular degeneration may be active and then slow down considerably, or even stop progressing for an extended period. There are ways to slow macular degeneration, depending on the type and the degree of the condition. These range from nutritional intervention, injection or laser surgery of the blood vessels.

If you would like further information please visit the Macula Degeneration website or make an Appointment with Sallyanne, Josh or Donna for an eye examination or phone 1300 EYE 000.