Macular Degeneration


Macular Degeneration

What is the macula?
Think of your eye behaving like a camera . There is a lens and an aperture (an opening) at the front, which both adjust to bring objects into focus on the retina at the back of your eye. The retina is made up of a delicate tissue that is sensitive to light, rather like the film in a camera. The macula is found at the centre of the retina where the incoming rays of light are focused. The macula is very important and is responsible for: · what we see straight in front of us · the vision needed for detailed activities such as reading and writing, and · our ability to appreciate colour.

Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is a degenerative condition of the macula (the central retina).  AMD is caused by hardening of the arteries that nourish the retina.  This deprives the sensitive retinal tissue of oxygen and nutrients that it needs to function and thrive.  As a result, the central vision deteriorates.

Signs and Symptoms


Nutrition and macular degeneration
Several recent studies have indicated a strong link between nutrition and the development of macular degeneration.  It has been scientifically demonstrated that people with diets high in fruits and vegetables (especially leafy green vegetables) have a lower incidence of macular degeneration.  More studies are needed to determine if nutritional supplements can prevent progression in patients with existing disease.


ICaps dietary supplement for the maintenance of healthy eyes.
ICaps is a specialised, comprehensive formula of antioxidant vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids which are important to vision and ocular health. Now available in a new easier to swallow tablet.

ICaps contains lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients that occur naturally in the macula (the area of the eye where the incoming rays of light are focused) and which help to protect the eye by reducing oxidative stress and absorbing damaging blue light.
Research has shown that these natural carotenoids, found in green, leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli and cabbage may have a positive effect on the macula and ocular health, particularly in people aged over 40 years.

Detection and Diagnosis

Your Optometrist can diagnose macular degeneration during a routine eye exam,using a Amsler grid test,ophthalmoscope,slit lamp microscope, though sometimes the pupils need to be  dilated to fully assess the condition.

Early diagnosis is critical for successful treatment of wet macular degeneration.  Patients can help the optometrist detect early changes by monitoring vision at home with an Amsler grid.

Fluorescein Angiography

In some cases your eye specialist may decide that a fluorescein angiogram will also be needed. This involves taking a series of colour photographs of your retina with bright flashes of light. These photographs give an accurate map of the changes occurring in the macula and help your eye specialist to decide what is the best treatment for you.

For the angiogram you will be given a small injection of special dye in your arm which then works its way around to your eye. This is not painful but you may feel a bit sick. A series of rapid pictures are then taken with a blue light over the next few minutes. There are few side effects, although some people find that they are dazzled for a while afterwards. You may also notice that the injection has left your skin with a faint yellow tinge from the fluorescein dye but this soon passes as it is excreted in your urine.

There is no proven medical therapy for dry macular degeneration.  In selected cases of wet macular degeneration, laser photocoagulation is effective for sealing leaking or bleeding vessels.  Unfortunately, laser photocoagulation usually does not restore lost vision, but it may prevent further loss. 

Recently, photodynamic therapy has proven to be effective in stopping abnormal blood vessel growth in some patients with wet AMD. This new type of laser treatment is far less damaging than laser photocoagulation and is the treatment of choice in many cases.

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