Whilst there are several different forms of Macular Disease most are rare. The macula is a very small area at the back of your eye. Disease of the macular can take different forms usually termed either Dry or Wet..
Unfortunately Dry AMD is fairly common. The cells in the macula area are very active and have high nutritional demands, which can lead to an accumulation of waste deposits which your Optometrist may see as small yellowish white deposits called drusen.Drusen may be innocous or could mean you are at risk of progressing to a more incapacitating AMD. Typically dry AMD is slow to progress allowing people to gradually adapt their lifestyle to changes in vision. Currently there is no treatment but research is ongoing.
Dry AMD is a gradual deterioration of the macula as the retinal cells die off and are not renewed. The term dry does not mean the person has dry eyes, just that the condition is not wet AMD. The progression of dry AMD varies but in most people it develops over many months or years. Often people carry on as normal for some time, for example by continuing to drive. However around 10 to 15 percent of people with dry AMD develop wet AMD so if you have dry AMD but notice a sudden change in your vision, contact your optometrist or hospital eye specialist urgently.
Wet MD whilst rarer causes a greater loss of vision and has a more rapid onset than dry. Unfortunately because it usually affects only one eye, people may not notice there is a problem until it is too late. If Wet AMD is picked up quickly there are treatments available which can stop deterioration and even improve vision.
In wet AMD abnormal blood vessels grow into the macula. These leak blood or fluid which leads to scarring of the macula and rapid loss of central vision so fast referral to a hospital specialist is essential. Once there the ophthalmologist may recommend injections to stop the leakage and so stops the scarring – as many as 8 injections in one year may be necessary (but the area is anaesthetised). Research is ongoing, so listen out for different treatment options.
If you have AMD in one eye it may affect the other eye within a few years so IF you have any concerns about changes in your vision it is important to make an appointment with your Optometrist, but s/he may need to dilate your eye to decide if you have a condition that needs referral or not. This will mean that you will be unable to drive for several hours so leave your car at home or take a driver with you.