Dr. David Maberley

MD, FRCS(C), MSc

VIDEO : Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration occurs when the macula, a light-sensitive membrane that lines the inside of the back of the eye, starts to deteriorate. The risk increases with age, and treatment depends on whether you have wet or dry macular degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an extremely common eye condition. As the leading cause of severe vision loss in people over 65,  it can affect near and distance vision. Many people with AMD have difficulties with activities such as reading and knitting.

What Causes Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration occurs when the macula, which is the part of the retina that’s responsible for central vision, is damaged or begins to break down. The retina is the light-sensing part of the eye. There are two types of macular degeneration: dry (atrophic) and wet (neovascular or exudative). Most AMD starts as dry, and in 10-20 percent of patients, progresses to wet macular degeneration. If you have dry age-related macular degeneration, small white or yellowish spots form on the retina, causing the macula to deteriorate over time. If you have wet macular degeneration, abnormal blood vessels under the retina begin to grow toward the macula, then break and leak fluid. Wet macular degeneration progresses more rapidly than dry and can soon lead to a loss of central vision.

Dry macular degeneration symptoms include:

• Straight lines seeming bent or wavy
• Vision loss in one or both eyes
• Blurry vision when reading
• Difficulty adapting to dimly lit environments
• Decreased brightness of colours

Wet macular degeneration symptoms include:

• Straight lines seeming bent or wavy
• A blurry spot or haziness in your vision
• Vision loss in one or both eyes
• Decreased brightness of colours

Macular Degeneration Treatment

The treatment for dry age-related macular degeneration is largely related to nutritional changes, with a diet high in antioxidants to support macular health. Studies have also shown that vitamins C, E and beta-carotene and zinc can benefit people at high risk for late-stage macular degeneration. These antioxidants and zinc can prevent the risk of the disease progressing to advanced stages by approximately 25% to 30%. While these supplements have shown promising results in lowering the risk of macular degeneration progressing, they aren’t a cure, and won’t reverse damage you already have from age-related macular degeneration. Wet macular degeneration treatments include laser photocoagulation to seal leaking blood vessels and anti-VEGF therapy injected into the eye.

Talk to your ophthalmologist if you’d like more information on macular degeneration. 

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