16 Jan

What is Age-related Macular Degeneration?

Macular Degeneration

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) has become a worldwide problem

In people over the age of 60, it is the leading cause of severe, irreversible vision loss. While almost never a completely blinding disease, macular degeneration can be a source of significant visual disability.

Age-related Macular Degeneration is a disease that occurs in the back of the eye. Specifically, in the macula. The macula is the part of your eye that reads the centre of your vision. The most precise part of your vision. This is the part of the eye that is used for high visual tasks like reading and driving.

As the name alludes to, Age-related Macular Degeneration, as you get older and enter your advanced years your macular changes. The macular starts to degenerate. The degeneration brings with it, a build-up of material that occurs between the cells that read the light. When that build-up happens, it starts to distort the vision. The build-up between the cells in the macula leads to two kinds of Age-related Macular Degeneration, dry and wet.

The “dry” form of macular degeneration is characterized by the presence of yellow deposits, called drusen, in the macula. A few small drusen may not cause changes in vision; however, as they grow in size and increase in number, they may lead to a dimming or distortion of vision that people find most noticeable when they read. In the advanced stages, patients lose central vision.

The “wet” form of macular degeneration is characterised by the growth of abnormal blood vessels from the choroid underneath the macula. These blood vessels leak blood and fluid into the retina, causing distortion of vision that makes straight lines look wavy, as well as blind spots and loss of central vision. These abnormal blood vessels and their bleeding eventually form a scar, leading to permanent loss of central vision.

Most patients with macular degeneration have the dry form of the disease and can lose some form of central vision. However, the dry form of macular degeneration can lead to the wet form. There is no way to reverse the damage done to the vision once it has been caused.

This disease has a genetic component. Caucasian people are at a higher risk of developing it. However, it is also strongly influenced and affected by environmental components. The way we live such as our diet, exposure to UV light and smoking are all environmental components that affect the development of Age-related Macular Degeneration.

Studies have shown that there are certain elements lacking in the diets of people afflicted with Age-related Macular Degeneration. In particular, Lutein and Zeaxanthin which are found in leafy green vegetables and egg yolks. Making sure you get your daily intake of Lutein and Zeaxanthin can go a long way to helping you prevent and slow the progress of AMD.


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