Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is the leading cause of blindness in the Western world in individuals over 60 years of age and as yet, the causes are still unclear.
There are two types:
Dry – Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is the commonest, accounting for 90% of cases.
It is slow to progress but does not as yet respond to treatment, although stem cell research may hold the key to treating this condition.
Wet Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is less common but often has severe effects – in some cases all central vision can be lost in a few days due to the damaging effects of rogue new blood vessels in the retina.
Symptoms may include:
- Reduced or impaired central vision
- Distortion of straight lines
- Difficulty reading
- Reduced colour perception
Risk factors include:
- High blood pressure
- Poor diet
- Hereditary issue
Reducing the risk
Research shows brightly coloured fruits and vegetables (such as mangoes, spinach, peas and tomatoes) are rich in beneficial anti- oxidants, and these, as well as supplements containing Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Zinc may reduce risk.
New lens technology such as Blue Light Filter from Adidas can also have a protective capacity.
Treatment ranges from simple lifestyle changes such as stopping smoking and improving diet, to injections and laser procedures for wet ARMD. As with Diabetic Retinopathy treatment aims to stop the progression of the disease, rather than to restore vision.
For patients suffering visual loss, Low Vision Aids may be useful.