Macular Degeneration Specialist

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

The Macula is the main “seeing” part of the eye. It is the area where the light rays come to a focus on the Retina (back of the eye), and a detailed, coloured image is produced. This is our central vision, and it is used for activities such as reading, driving, and recognition of faces. Unfortunately, macular degeneration usually occurs in both eyes, and advanced stages result in the reduction or loss of these every day activities.

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness* and major vision loss in Australia. One in seven Australians over the age of 50 years (1.15 million people) have signs of the disease. (MD Foundation, 2014). Although the exact cause of AMD has not been identified, risk factors include; old age, family history, smoking, diet and lifestyle factors.

AMD can be detected before symptoms are even present. Early AMD is initially identified by small yellow deposits, known as “Drusen”, which develop in the layers of the Retina.

There are two types of AMD; “Dry” and “Wet”:

Dry AMD develops slowly over time and involves patches of the retinal pigment epithelial cells (RPE) dying at the macula (atrophy).

Wet AMD follows Dry AMD, and occurs when the body releases Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) to grow new blood vessels in an attempt to provide oxygen to the damaged Macula. Unfortunately, these new blood vessels grow in excess, and are fragile and leak/bleed into the Macula. Scar tissue then forms at the site of these bleeds, and central vision is suddenly and severely affected.

Wet AMD can be treated via repeated dosages of an Anti-VEGF agent via injection into the back of the eye, performed under local anaesthetic. Anti-VEGF medicines stop the growth and leakage of these abnormal blood vessels. They were originally used to reduce the blood supply, and therefore stunt the growth, of cancers in the body. These medicines have now been incorporated and approved by the FDA for the treatment of Wet AMD. Studies have shown that stabilisation of vision, and prevention of further vision loss, is possible with regular injections.

At the Eye Specialists, all of our Doctors are trained in administering intravitreal injections to treat wet AMD.

Dr Kiran Manku and Dr KL Lee are our retina and macular specialists.

Hunter Eye Hospital