Age Related Macular Degeneration
Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of visual loss and new cases of blindness in Irish women.
AMD is a degenerative eye disease that affects the macula - the central part of the retina that is responsible for the "straight ahead" vision and gives the ability to see in colour and fine detail. The macula is necessary for everyday visual activities like reading, driving, telling time watching TV, shopping or recognising faces. In women with AMD, if the macula becomes damaged central vision deteriorates and can eventually become lost.
AMD is most common in women over 60 years of age, particularly with a family history and in those who have smoked. Recent evidence suggests significant hormonal effects e.g. the use of hormone replacement therapies may protect against the severe forms of AMD.
Dry AMD is the most common form of the condition and develops and progresses slowly. Wet AMD is more serious and is caused by leaky blood vessels developing beneath the macula. It is less common than dry AMD but it can cause a more rapid loss of vision.
Early Detection and Screening essential
Early detection of the disease is essential to allow prompt referral to a retinal specialist. Whilst there are simple clinical tests available to identify early symptoms of AMD, a definitive diagnosis can best be made by a specialized digital photographic and clinical examination by a trained Ophthalmologist or Eye Surgeon.
New digital imaging and immediate on-line referral to a Consultant Ophthalmologist called Telescreening is now available to Irish GPs and Optometrists at the Leeson Eye Institute which provide expert retinal evaluation, reduce waiting times for prompt referral and allow early intervention and treatment, thereby reducing the risk of visual loss.
There are many treatments available for different forms of the disease including simple dietary changes such as vitamin supplementation in addition to complex injection treatments and lasers for the more severe sight-threatening forms.
New forms of advanced medications called anti-VEGF treatments are now available which for the first time have the potential to restore and preserve vision for those most severely affected.
Comprehensive Consultant Eye Examination
- This examination checks the health of the eye for glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration.and costs €100
- It may be necessary to dilate (enlarge) the pupil with drops to examine the retina fully and this may blur your vision slightly for several hours so please bear this in mind if you intend to drive soon after the examination
- Patients with Private Health insurance (VHI Quinn Healthcare Aviva ) may be entitled to a rebate for all or part of this fee from their insurance company depending on the level of cover, e.g. VHI healthcare plan B entitles you to a rebate of €51 per consultant visit