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Macular degeneration (AMD)

We look at this condition, also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

Macular degeneration is a condition that affects a tiny part of the retina at the back of your eye called the macula. This eye disease can cause central vision problems, including blind spots. Early diagnosis and treatment of AMD is essential to prevent vision loss.  

Although it can develop at an earlier age, macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is extremely common in older people. According to the Macular Society, it affects 1.5 million people in the UK, and is the country’s leading cause of sight loss.   

There are two types of AMD: ‘wet’ and ‘dry’. 

Wet AMD is the more serious type and affects around 10% of people with AMD. In wet AMD, the macula becomes damaged and new blood vessels start to grow behind the macula. Wet AMD can cause you to lose central vision in weeks. All people with the wet type had the dry type first.  

Dry AMD is the most common type and less serious type. It affects around 90 percent of people with AMD. This type develops gradually when the light-sensitive cells in the macula slowly break down. Dry AMD can lead to loss of central vision but it rarely causes complete blindness.

The main symptoms of AMD include:

  • Blurred vision, shadows or blind spots
  • Straight lines appearing wavy
  • Trouble reading, recognising people’s faces or watching TV
  • Difficulty telling colours apart
  • Slower vision recovery after seeing bright lights

Diagnosing AMD as early as possible is the key to helping slow down its progress. If your eyesight starts to get blurred or suddenly gets worse, you should book an emergency appointment to see your Consultant.

AMD doesn’t always cause symptoms at first so it’s important to get your eyes examined at least once every two years. At BMI Healthcare, our specialist Consultants offer fast diagnosis and will create a bespoke treatment plan based on your individual needs.

There are a several different treatments for wet AMD. Your doctor will discuss your options and find the treatment that best suits your condition.

Eye injections

VEGF is the substance that causes blood vessels to develop. VEGF stands for vascular endothelial growth factor.

When there is too much of this substance, too many blood vessels grow, causing AMD. Doctors can treat wet AMD by using syringes to administer anti-VEGF drugs.

Before the treatment, your eye will be numbed using a local anaesthetic, and you will lie back on a couch. You will be asked to look one way as your doctor injects the drug into the opposite corner of your eye.

These injections reduce the amount of VEGF in your system and help to treat your AMD. Your ophthalmologist will let you know how often you will need to attend appointments for your injections.

Photodynamic therapy (PDT)

Photodynamic therapy for AMD is when a light-sensitive drug is injected into your bloodstream. The drug is then activated in the eye using a low-energy laser, which should shut down the abnormal blood vessels without damaging the macula.

PDT is only suitable for certain patterns of macular damage. It usually involves attending more than one outpatient appointment for treatment.

Laser therapy

Before laser therapy for AMD, your eye will be numbed using an anaesthetic eye drop. A surgeon will then use a laser to seal off the blood vessels below the macula. This should stop them leaking and prevent vision loss.

AMD will not improve on its own and can cause sight loss if it is not treated. The risks of AMD treatment should be weighed up against the risks factors of no treatment. Your doctor will be able to advise you on the best course of action for your condition.

Invasive AMD treatment is more likely to cause side effects and problems than less invasive treatments. Risks of laser therapy include:

  • Loss of sight;
  • Bleeding;
  • Issues with eye pressure;
  • Infection and
  • Formation of cataracts.

Our 500 trusted eyecare experts offer personalised care at over 40 BMI Healthcare centres across the UK.

Our experts in affordable eye care offer fast access to treatment in a safe and comfortable environment.

Your AMD treatment will provide the best possible outcome, along with excellent value for money, to help improve your quality of life.

What you pay will depend on the exact treatment you need. Your final price will be confirmed in writing following your consultation.

Specialists Offering Macular degeneration (AMD)

Mr Gerard McGowan

Consultant Ophthalmologist, Vitreoretinal Specialist

MBChB FRCOphth

BMI Ross Hall Hospital

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Mr Sat Jalpota

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

MBBS. DO (Dublin), FRCS (Edinburgh), Cert LRS (London)

BMI Three Shires Hospital

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Mr Nitin Gupta

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

MS Opthalmology, FRCSEd Opthalmology

BMI St Edmunds Hospital

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Mr Vijay Hegde

Consultant Ophthalmologist, Cataract and Vitreoretinal Surgeon

MBBS, MS, FRCSEd, FRCOphth

BMI Albyn Hospital

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Mr Fook Chang Lam

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

MBChB(Hons), MRCP, FRCOphth

BMI Goring Hall Hospital

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