What is AMD?

Jan Vorster of Jan Vorster Optometrist says age related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye condition that causes blurry field of vision due to ageing. It is the breakdown or deterioration of the macula.

The macula is a small area in the retina at the back of the eye that allows you to see fine details also known as the point of central vision. When the macula does not function correctly, your central vision can be affected by blurriness, dark areas or distortion.

Macular degeneration affects your ability to see near and far, and make some activities – like threading a needle or reading – difficult or impossible.

Although macular degeneration reduces vision in the central part of the retina, it usually does not affect the peripheral vision. For example you could see the outline of a clock but not to be able to tell what time is it.

Macular degeneration alone does not result in total blindness. Even in more advanced cases people continue to have some useful vision and are often able to take care of themselves.

An easy way to test is to do the Amsler test:

Example 1 – AMD TEST GRID
  1. Hold the grid about 70-100cm away from your face.
  2. Cover the once eye and focus on the center dot.
  3. Look out for irregularities within the grid. See example 2 below:
  4. Now test the other eye.
  5. Tell your optometrist about any change and irregularities.
Example 2 – Test for Irregularities

Risk Factors of AMD

1AgeAt 50 the risk of getting AMD is estimated at 2%. It rises to 30% by age 75.
2HeredityThose with directly family members diagnosed with AMD are at a greater risk.
3Macular Pigment levelThinner pigment cannot protect the macula effectively.
4GenderWoman may be at greater risk of getting AMD than men.
5NutritionMalnutrition weaken the protection against free radicals.
6SunSignificant cumulative light of getting AMD.
7SmokingSmoking increases the risk of getting AMD.