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Macular Degeneration

1. What is macular degeneration?
2. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
3. What are the symptoms of macular degeneration?
4. How is macular degeneration treated?


What is macular degeneration?

The macula is a small but important area in the retina at the back of the eye that receives light for vision. When the macula is affected by disease, your central vision will be affected with blurring, patches, dark areas or distortion.
In macular degeneration there is a deterioration or breakdown of the macula, usually caused by aging. Central vision is affected but vision at the side, also called peripheral vision, is spared. A person with macular degeneration may be able to see the outline of a patient’s face, but may not be able to make out details of the facial features like the nose and mouth.
Fortunately, macular degeneration usually does not result in total blindness, even in the more advanced cases. Patients continue to have useful vision and are often able to perform most activities of daily living and take care of themselves.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

Many older people develop macular degeneration as part of the body’s aging process. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the commonest forms of macular degeneration. How and why it develops with increasing age is not fully understood.

There are two types of AMD:

  1. “Dry” macular degeneration (Atrophic)
    This is the commoner form of AMD. It is caused by aging and thinning of the tissues of the macula. Visual loss is usually gradual.
  2. “Wet” macular degeneration (Exudative)
    This accounts for about 10% of AMD cases. It occurs when abnormal blood vessels form in the layer beneath the retina at the back of the eye. These new blood vessels leak fluid or blood, causing blurring of central vision. Visual loss is often rapid, and may be severe.

Drusen are whitish-yellow deposits under the retina. They are a common feature of macular degeneration (both the “dry” and “wet” forms). Drusen alone usually do not cause visual loss, but may do so if they increase in size or number.
Macular degeneration is another topic Dr Cordelia Chan, Singapore ophthalmologist, will touch on and discuss about Age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Symptoms ofmacular degeneration is look at and the treatment.

What are the symptoms of macular degeneration?

In its early stages, the condition may be hardly noticeable, and there may be no visual symptoms.
In its more advanced stages, the following may occur:

  • A dark or empty area in the centre of vision
  • Blurring of some words on a page
  • Straight lines look wavy, curved or distorted

How is macular degeneration treated?

In early cases where vision is not affected, no treatment is required. Regular self-monitoring with an Amsler grid chart is all that is required.

In more advanced cases, these are the treatment options:

  1. Laser surgery
    Certain types of “wet” AMD can be treated with special lasers that use a focused beam of light to slow or stop leaking blood vessels that damage the macula.
  2. Photodynamic therapy (PDT)
    This uses a combination of a special drug and laser treatment to slow or stop leaking blood vessels.
  3. Anti-VEGF treatments
    This targets a specific chemical in your body, called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), that is critical in causing abnormal blood vessels to grow under the retina. Anti-VEGF drugs block VEGF, reducing the growth of abnormal blood vessels and slowing their leakage. Examples are Avastin, Lucentis and EyeLea.

These procedures may preserve vision overall, but often they are not able to restore vision to normal. Despite all these advances in treatment for AMD, many patients still experience some level of visual loss.

Eye Surgeons @ Novena, Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre
38 Irrawaddy Road #09-28 Singapore 329563
Contact: +65 66940400,