About macular degeneration

What is it?

Although there is no cure for MD, there are treatment options that can slow down its progression, depending on the stage and type of the disease (wet, dry, and other forms). The other earlier the disease is detected, the more vision you are likely to retain.

Macular Degeneration (MD) is the name given to a group of degenerative diseases of the retina that cause progressive, painless loss of central vision, affecting the ability to see fine detail, drive, read and recognise faces.

Normal Retina

Normal retina




Both wet and dry forms of MD begin in the Retinal Pigment Epithelium, or RPE, a layer of cells underneath the retina. The RPE is responsible for passing oxygen, sugar and other essentials up to the retina and moving waste products down the blood vessels underneath.

MD occurs when this “garbage collection” breaks down and the waste products from the retina build up underneath the RPE. These deposits, known as ‘drusen,’ are easily seen by your eye care professional as yellow spots.

As MD progresses, vision loss occurs because the RPE cells die or because the RPE cells fails to prevent blood vessels from the choroid from growing into the retina.

In the early stages of MD, when drusen first appear, you may not realise anything is wrong and you may still have normal vision. That is the best time to detect the disease.

Symptoms of MD

  • Distorted vision, where a grid of straight lines may appear wavy or bent
  • Blurred vision.  A gradual decline in the ability to see objects clearly
  • Dark patches, shadows or empty spaces appearing in the centre of your vision and parts of a grid of straight lines may appear blank.
  • Difficulty distinguishing faces.


  • Difficulty reading or doing any other activity that requires fine vision
  • Trouble discerning colours
  • Sensitivity to glare
  • Slow adjustment of vision after exposure to bright lights.
  • Need for increased illumination
Normal Vision

Normal Vision

Vision with Age-related Macular DegenerationVision with Age-related Macular Degeneration

Vision with Age-related Macular Degeneration

Do the Amsler Grid test

About this test

The Amsler grid is a tool that optometrists use to detect vision problems resulting from damage to the macula.


  1. Do not remove glasses or contact lenses normally used for reading.
  2. Hold grid at eye level approximately 33cm away in a well lit room
  3. Cover one eye and focus on the centre dot with the uncovered eye (make sure the eye is fully covered)
  4. Repeat with the other eye
  5. Blurred, missing segment of a line or if the line appears wavy or distorted, may indicate there is an issue with your macula.



Defense against Macular Degeneration.

  • Early detection of macular degeneration is crucial as some forms of the disease may be arrested with early treatment
  • Regular eye examinations are the key to early detection before vision loss occurs
  • Eat a healthy diet which includes fish at least two times a week and include dark green leafy vegetables.Eat fresh fruit every day along with nuts and avoid fatty foods
  • Consider taking a zinc and anti-oxidant supplement
  • Eye protections against UV damage.  This is especially important before macular degeneration develops
  • Maintain a healthy weight and get some regular exercise
  • Don’t smoke

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