London Medical Ophthalmology

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

At London Medical, we have an outstanding team of retina experts who specialise in the treatment of AMD.

What is age-related macular degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a condition in which you experience loss of your central vision. This can make it difficult to read, drive, see fine details or even recognise familiar faces. Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of sight loss in the UK.

Understanding AMD

The macula is a small but vital part of the retina responsible for our central vision. The macula allows us to see colour and fine detail. It is located in the centre of the retina at the back of the eye.

Over time the macula can become damaged. There is no known cause of AMD, but age is the most significant factor. Most individuals are diagnosed with AMD in their 50s or 60s. Although AMD causes central vision loss, it does not lead to total blindness as your peripheral vision is retained.

What are the types of AMD?

There are two types of AMD: dry and wet.

Dry AMD is the more common of the two types, with approximately 75% of people experiencing this form. It develops gradually due to the buildup of yellow deposits made up of lipids and proteins called drusen at the back of the eye. Dry AMD causes gradual loss of central vision. Genetics and environmental factors are thought to contribute to this condition. About 10-15% of people with dry AMD develop wet AMD.

Wet AMD is less common but causes more severe eye loss. It’s caused by the abnormal growth of blood vessels beneath the retina that leak blood or fluid, causing scarring of the macula. Wet AMD leads to more severe and faster vision loss, so it’s critical to seek immediate treatment to avoid irreversible vision loss.

AMD signs and symptoms

AMD can affect one or both of your eyes. You should see an ophthalmologist if you experience any of the following signs or symptoms:

  • Blurred or distorted area of vision
  • Seeing wavy lines that you know are straight
  • A dark, empty spot in your central vision
  • Colours that appear less bright than they are
  • Objects that appear smaller than they are

AMD risk factors

We don’t know precisely what causes AMD, but several risk factors are thought to play a role. The single most significant risk factor is age. 

You are more likely to develop AMD if you:

  • are over 50
  • smoke
  • have high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • eat a diet high in saturated fat
  • have a family history of AMD.

Our approach to treating age-related macular degeneration

At London Medical, we have an outstanding team of retina experts who are the top ophthalmologists in their field. Located on the cutting edge of retina research and involved in the latest treatments for AMD, our experts ensure that your treatment reflects the very latest advances in a rapidly-developing field.  

Getting diagnosed

If you have experienced any signs or symptoms of vision loss or want a second opinion, the first step is to have a complete eye exam with one of our AMD consultants. 

After arriving at our ground floor office area, you’ll be given a vision test and then administered drops to dilate your eye. Your consultant will then offer one or more of the following investigations to diagnose your condition:

  • Optical coherence tomography (OCT) scans – This non-invasive test takes detailed images of your retina and macula.
  • Fluorescein angiography – Used to detect and track wet AMD, this investigation involves the injection of a special yellow dye into a vein in your arm. Your technician then takes pictures as the blood moves through your eye's retinal blood vessels.
  • Indocyanine green angiography (ICG) – In this investigation, the technician injects a different type of green dye into your hand or arm to record the blood flow of choroidal blood vessels located under the retinal blood vessels.

What are my treatment options for dry AMD?

Although some promising treatments are on the horizon, there is currently no treatment for dry AMD. We understand that this is difficult to accept. Our consultants will offer compassionate support and education that is tailored to your stage of the disease.

If you are in the early stages of AMD, you will not need any intervention. Those individuals whose dry AMD has progressed to an intermediate stage can benefit from taking specific vitamin supplements. Your consultant can advise you on the right evidence-based supplements for you.

For patients with more advanced AMD, we offer a low vision assessment to help you find special low vision aids that can help you adapt to daily life with impaired vision. 

What are my treatment options for wet AMD?

With wet AMD, the sooner you get diagnosed and start a treatment programme, the better your visual outcome will be. Several drugs can slow the progression of this disease and protect the vision of patients with wet AMD.

Anti-VEGF injections
Intravitreal injections, called anti-VEGF injections, can reduce the growth and leakage of abnormal blood vessels in your retina. These injections are given several times a year and are highly effective in stabilising and improving vision in patients with wet AMD.

At London Medical, we offer access to the latest and most effective approved drugs on the market, including:

  • Eylea
  • Lucentis
  • Avastin
  • Beovu
  • Vabysmo.

Vabysmo is a newly approved drug that shows promising outcomes for our patients. A key benefit is its extended dosing regimen which increases the time between injections, meaning fewer injections overall.

Photodynamic therapy (PDT)
Your consultant might recommend photodynamic therapy (PDT) for some types of wet AMD (polyps). This treatment uses a special dye and laser on the back of the eye to close abnormal blood vessels. The procedure is performed at London Medical, which is one of the few private or public eye clinics that offer this therapy.

Lifestyle changes
Although many of us don’t realise it, our retina health is closely associated with our overall health. If you have hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes or other underlying health problems, you are more at risk for eye problems. There are many ways that you can protect and improve your overall eye health:

  • Stop smoking
  • Eat an eye-healthy diet rich in dark, leafy greens
  • Lose weight
  • Protect your eyes from harmful rays of the sun
  • Manage conditions such as high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease.

As part of the London Medical family, our eye clinic has access to various specialities — all under one roof. So whether you need a personalised weight management programme, expert nutritional advice or support with quitting smoking, we can help look after your whole health.

 

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London Medical is located in the Harley Street medical area. Together with top experts across a range of multi-disciplinary fields, we offer the finest facilities for your care, all under one roof.

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