The leading cause of vision loss, macular degeneration is caused by the deterioration of the central portion of the retina, the inside back layer of the eye that records the images we see and sends them via the optic nerve from the eye to the brain.
The retina’s central portion, known as the macula, is responsible for focusing central vision in the eye, and it controls our ability to read, drive a car, recognise faces or colours, and see objects in fine detail.
Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is a degenerative condition of the macula (the central retina) that affects people over the age of 55, with its prevalence increasing with age.
Characterised by two types – “wet” and “dry” – it results in progressive blurring and sight distortion that may result in loss of a driver’s licence and the inability to read. However, not all cases are progressive – the majority of cases retain good vision although some loss of quality is noticed.
New drugs injected into the eye known as anti-VEGF agents such as Avastin and Lucentis give ophthalmologists the ability to halt progression and even reverse some of the visual loss.