What is age-related macular degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration (also known as AMD) is a common condition that affects the macula – a small, but important, area right in the middle of the light-sensitive layer at the back of your eye, called the retina. It usually affects people over 65. There are two types of AMD – dry and wet – which can affect your vision in different ways.
What are the symptoms of age-related macular degeneration?
The macula is responsible for the detailed, central vision that helps you to read, recognise faces and drive.
Symptoms of AMD include:
Loss of central vision
You won’t usually notice any changes to your side (peripheral) vision with this condition.
The dry type of AMD is the more common of the two and affects how you can see fine detail. It happens quite slowly, so a lot of people don’t realise a change in vision, but you’ll tend to find it more difficult to read, watch the television, drive and use your computer.
The wet type usually develops in people who’ve already had the dry type of AMD. People with wet AMD tend to experience a very sudden change in their central vision, typically only in one eye. If you ever have any strange symptoms, like straight lines looking wavy or blurry central vision (called visual distortion), it’s really important that you get in touch with an optometrist as soon as you can.
How AMD can affect your vision
What causes age-related macular degeneration?
Dry AMD happens when the pigment layer found under the retina (called the RPE) breaks down. Some cases are caused by a build-up of waste products (called drusen) underneath the macula.
Wet AMD happens when new blood vessels grow underneath the retina. Fluid can escape from these new blood vessels and builds up within the retina, causing damage and a change in vision. This is why you tend to notice a quicker change in vision in comparison to dry AMD.
How is AMD diagnosed?
Regular eye tests are usually the best way to spot signs of age-related macular degeneration. Your optometrist will carry out a range of tests to get a really good view of the structures in your eyes and look for any indications of AMD. If they notice any early warning signs of AMD, they’ll ask you to look out for any early symptoms, like blurring or distortion. They might even ask you to check your vision on an Amsler chart from time to time. This chart is a grid of straight lines, so if any of them appear wavy or distorted at any point, then this can indicate changes in your vision due to AMD.
If they think you have wet AMD, they’ll refer you to specialists like us to get started with some treatment as soon as possible.
How is age-related macular degeneration treated?
There isn’t currently any treatment for dry macular degeneration, but there might be some nutritional supplements that can help slow its progression (although the evidence for these is still unclear). There’s also lots of research going on looking into possible treatments for dry AMD.
Intravitreal Injections for wet AMD
Wet macular degeneration can be treated with a type of injection called anti-VEGF (anti-vascular endothelial growth factor). VEGF is responsible for developing healthy blood vessels in the body – but with wet AMD, there is too much of this substance, which causes the extra unhealthy, leaky bloody vessels to grow. These injections essentially stop the substance from developing, helping to stabilise and even improve vision.
We usually carry out these injections as a quick day procedure in our clinics and you’ll often need a few rounds on a regular basis. The eye is often a little gritty and red for around 24-48 hours after, but you typically won’t need any drops or other treatment between injections.
We’ll give you some pupil dilating drops during this procedure, so it’s important that you arrange for someone to take you to and from your appointments as you won’t be able to drive yourself.
What are the possible complications?
Most people respond really well to treatment – the decline in vision can be stopped in 90% of cases and about a third of people gain better vision because of anti-VEGF therapy.
Although the vast majority of patients experience no complications at all (less than 1:1000), some complications can occur. Our team will discuss these with you in detail at your appointment and will make sure you’re happy to go ahead with treatment.
How much does the treatment cost?
If you’re an NHS patient, all your treatment costs with Newmedica are fully covered, with no additional cost to you.
Private treatment for age-related macular degeneration with us starts from £800.
The sooner you start getting treated, the greater the chance of success. Your consultant will talk you through all the options available during your initial consultation and will plan your treatment around your specific needs. So you’ll get a better idea of the costs once your consultant has put together your treatment plan.
If you have any questions about available treatments or you’d like to book an appointment with a full assessment of your condition, get in touch with us.
Where can I get age-related macular degeneration treatment near me?
You can find your nearest Newmedica clinic that provides AMD treatment here.
How do I get referred?
Your optician or GP will discuss the various treatment options available to you and where you can choose to have your treatment. You’ll be able to take the time to decide where you’d like to be treated, and your GP or optician will make the arrangements for your referral to Newmedica.
If you’d prefer to go the private route, you can get in touch with us directly. If you have private medical insurance, they might want some more information before you make your claim. You can find all the details on our private referral page.
Find your nearest clinic
Aqueous One, Aston Cross Business Village, Rocky Lane, Birmingham, B6 5RQ
Riverside Surgery, Barnard Avenue, Brigg, DN20 8AS
Aspen Medical Centre, Horton Road, Gloucester, GL1 3PX
19D Brighouse Court, Barnwood, Gloucester, GL4 3RT
Cromwell Primary Care Centre, 1st Floor, Cromwell Road, Grimsby, DN31 2BH
Grove Park, 1 Barton Close, Leicester, LE19 1SJ
29-30 Market Place, North Ormesby, Middlesbrough, TS3 6HR
Lakeside 200, Old Chapel Way, Broadland Business Park, Norwich, NR7 0WG
Tottle Road, Riverside Business Park, Nottingham, NG2 1RT
GP Led Health Centre, Ramsden Avenue, Camp Hill, Nuneaton, CV10 9EB
Getting referred to Newmedica
If you think you have an eye condition, you should see your optician or GP for a detailed assessment. They’ll go through all the options available and tell you where you can have your treatment.
The referral process will differ slightly depending on whether you want to be an NHS or private patient. You’ll find all the information you need on our NHS and private patient pages.
Are you a health care professional?
Find out how to refer a patient.