Macular Degeneration

The macula is that part of the retina (the "film" in the camera) we use when we're looking directly at something. It is our "central" vision. It may degenerate with age. Sometimes this can be mild, sometimes it can result in the loss of the ability to read. It almost never results in total blindness. 

In the wet form of macular degeneration abnormal leaky blood vessels can haemorrhage, with sudden damage to central vision. If detected early, using OCT scanning before bleeding has actually occurred, it may be possible to treat the leaking blood vessel. Impending haemorrhage can sometimes give symptoms of distortion. This treatment consists of injecting a hormone into the eye which causes the abnormal blood vessel to shrink. The treatment often requires multiple injections, but it is easy to follow the response to treatment using OCT. People often think that an injection into the eye would be painful; however, if done properly, it is less uncomfortable than having a blood test. Sometimes a fluorescein angiogram is also required to aid in the diagnosis.

All people over the age of sixty should have regular checks for macular degeneration, particularly if there is a family history of it. Smoking is a major risk factor for developing macular degeneration.