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Age related vision loss is becoming more common in both Malaysia and developed country as the senior citizen population increases.

One of the major cause of age-related vision loss is the changes in the retina (back or the eye region which the light sensitive part of the eye. Often called age-related Macular degeneration (ARMD), Macular Degeneration is a leading cause of vision loss and blindness in the elderly. Those with this condition suffer loss of central vision when the macula (a part of the retina responsible for detailed vision) degenerates.

The exact cause of macular degeneration is currently unknown.

  • Dry ARMD may result from aging, leading to the macular tissues becoming thin, pigment depositing in the macula or combination of the two processes.

  • Wet ARMD occurs when new blood vessels grow beneath the retina and leaks blood and fluid. This leakage causes retinal cells to die, resulting in scars and creating blind spots in central vision.

Among those at risk of Macular degeneration includes:

  • Family history of macular degeneration

  • Smokers

  • Those with high blood pressure

  • Those who are obese

  • Those who are often exposed to sunlight

What are the signs and symptoms?

Macular degeneration usually progresses slowly, and leads to loss of vision. You may have macular degeneration if:

  • You see shadow areas in your central vision

  • You experience unusually fuzzy or distorted 

Image: In age-related macular degeneration, macular cells begin to die, and large portions of the center of vision may become blurred. People at this stage may have blind spots as well as some areas that appear wavy or distorted.

Diagnosis of Age-related Macular Degeneration

  • Fundus Examination (the use of a special slit lamp to see the insides of the eye)

  • Fundus Viewing – a Consultant Ophthalmologist will examine the retinal to provide an accurate diagnosis

  • Fundus Photography – Trained staff utilise a fundus camera to capture an image of the inner eye

  • Fundus Fluorescein Angiography (FFA)– a procedure similar to Fundus Photography, but has fluorescein dye injected into the patient, which will travel to the eye and highlight the blood vessels, allowing the ophthalmologist to check for leaking of blood vessels even if there is poor blood supply.

  • Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) – an attached medical imaging to capture the image of the retinal

Treatment Options
Treatment can be used to manage vision loss caused by ARMD:
  • Laser Treatment (remove or seal abnormal leaking blood vessels)
  • Photo Dynamic Therapy (uses a non-thermal laser with medication, to seal abnormal leaking blood vessels)
  • Anti – Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (Anti – VEGF) Medications (it is given through an eye injection)
What can you do?
If you have symptoms of retinal disease such as floaters and flashers, you should visit your eye specialist regularly to ensure that your retina is still healthy.Just like any eye diseases, early detection is crucial to prevent permanent vision loss. 
Shadow Areas

“Acceptance doesn't mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there's got to be a way through it.”

                                                                                                                                - Michael J. Fox - 

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