This week (26th June – 2nd July 2017) is Macular Week and the theme this year is Smoking and Sight Loss. Find out more about Macular Week and how you can get involved to help raise awareness of the link between smoking about sight loss.
Macular Week is organised by the Macular Society to help inform people about macular disease, how it can affect you or someone you know, and how you can find the help and support you need if you have it. The Macular Society organise events to raise aware, fundraisers to grow funds and support research to help us learn more.
What is the Macular?
The macular is the part of the eye which is responsible for your central vision. It’s located towards the back of your eye.
Macular disease covers a few different conditions that impact the retina, but the most common is called Age-Related Macular Degeneration.
What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) results in loss of central vision, typically in both eyes. This is because the macular isn’t working as it should be, causing what you see when you look directly ahead to become more and more blurry as the condition deteriorates.
AMD usually gradually worsens over a longer period of time, but sometimes it can get worse quite quickly. It doesn’t affect the peripheral vision and won’t cause total blindness.
Symptoms of Age-Related Macular Degeneration
As Age-Related Macular Degeneration doesn’t cause any pain, most people who have it don’t realise it until it starts to impact their vision.
Usually blurred central vision is what many with the condition will first notice. This can become obvious in situations such as driving and reading as you begin to lose details as you look directly ahead. Also, some people start to struggle to distinguish faces against a background as the sharpness of your vision decreases. Sometimes a distortion in the centre of the vision can also indicate AMD, which can become apparent when reading or writing.
Types of Age-related Macular Degeneration
There are two main types of Age-Related Macular Degeneration which can affect people.
Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration is typically a slow-developing type of AMD and can take between five and ten years before it begins to affect your vision. Dry AMD can also affect just one eye, and so the healthy eye usually compensates for the loss of vision in the other eye. This means that it could take longer before you notice any deficiency in your sight.
Things to watch out for:
- Blurry text
- A dullness in colours
- A bright light is needed when reading
- It can be difficult to recognise faces
- A haziness in vision
If you’re experiencing any of the above, make an appointment with an optometrist who will be able to look further into your symptoms to learn what the cause of the problems is.
1 in 10 people with Dry AMD go on to develop Wet AMD. A strong indicator that you’ve got Wet AMD is a rapid deterioration in your central vision.
Things to watch out for:
- Blind spots (which grow larger the longer they’re left)
- Hallucinations (these can come in the form of shapes/animals/people)
- Distortions (straight lines that seem wavy)
These symptoms, if left untreated, can worsen. It’s important that if you notice any of the above, you make an emergency appointment with an optometrist as soon as you can.
Supporting people with AMD
Part of the work that the Macular Society carry out is to raise awareness not only of these conditions, but also of the complications that these conditions can cause. Age-Related Macular Degeneration and, more specifically Wet AMD, has the potential to cause further issues.