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Macular degeneration damages your eyesight and around 500,000 people in the UK have it to some degree. It can occur in younger people but commonly affects people over the age of 50 and is the most common cause of sight loss in people over the age of 65 – hence the name ‘age-related macular degeneration’ often abbreviated to AMD.
The macula is a small area in the centre of the retina of your eye and helps you see straight ahead, see fine detail and see colour.
If the cells in the macula are damaged or start to work less efficiently as you get older, you’ll find it harder to read and recognise people’s faces. Your side vision, known as peripheral vision, is unaffected and so you can see to get around.
There are two types of macular degeneration - the ‘wet’ form and ‘dry’ form. These descriptions refer to what can be seen when your macula is examined by an eye specialist. They do not describe how your eyes feel if you have the ‘wet’ or ‘dry’ form. The ‘dry’ form accounts for approximately 90% of all cases. It develops slowly over time causing a gradual loss of central vision.
The ‘wet’ form is more serious, can develop relatively quickly and is due to new, fragile blood vessels that grow underneath the macula. They can leak blood or fluid into the eye to cause scarring and permanent damage to the macula. If you notice any sudden change in your vision, you should consult your GP or visit your local accident and emergency department.
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