Age related macular degeneration: your questions answered by a specialist

Written by: Dr Gabriella De Salvo
Published:
Edited by: Sophie Kennedy

Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is a condition that can affect our eyesight as we age. The macula is the part of the eye responsible for providing clear, good quality images. In the normal ageing process, it is possible that the macula may lose some of its functionality and degeneration in vision quality occurs. The progression of the condition varies according to its form but can, in the worst cases, result in sight loss. As such, it is hugely important to be aware of early warning signs of the condition. In this article, highly esteemed consultant ophthalmologist, Dr Gabriella De Salvo gives expert advice on monitoring eye health and symptoms of the onset of AMD, as well as providing insight on current treatment options as well as those in development.

 

 

 

 

Is it possible to stop or slow the progression of AMD?

 

Age related macular degeneration (AMD) has two forms: wet and dry. The dry form is more common in patients with AMD, between eighty and ninety per cent, and has a slower progressing effect on quality of eyesight. The wet form is less common and may have a faster progression, resulting in a sudden decrease in vision quality.

 

There is currently no available treatment for the dry form of AMD. However, there are a few active clinical trials which show promising results in slowing the progression of the permanent macular damage caused by the disease.

 

The wet form can currently be treated, but a cure is not yet available. Injections inside the eye are used for this purpose, known as intravitreal injections. The injections are given at regular intervals, from four to a maximum of twelve weeks gap. They can stop the progression of the condition in sixty per cent of cases, stabilise the disease in thirty per cent and may be ineffective in ten per cent of cases.

 

 

How close are we to a cure for AMD?

 

Finding a proper cure for AMD is the main challenge for those working in the retina field. Currently, a number of clinical trials are taking place with the aim of exploring new therapeutic options. Additionally, other trials are examining how current treatment by injection may be optimised by lengthening the interval between injections. The effects of longer lasting molecules and of intraocular implants on eyesight is also under investigation.

 

 

Does AMD run in families?

 

Yes, some families are more inclined to get AMD due to their genetic predisposition. Therefore, it is extremely important to have regular ophthalmic check-ups at least once a year after reaching the age of fifty. Ideally, the check-up should also include a high-resolution macular scan (optical coherence tomography: OCT) to identify possible changes occurring at the macula that may be not visible using the slit lamp or microscope.

 

 

Are there any lifestyle changes which can help to prevent or reduce the impact of AMD?

 

In patients affected by dry AMD, a balanced diet rich in leafy green vegetables and foods containing high quantities of lutein, such as spinach, kale and pistachios, may slow the progression of the condition. Avoiding direct eye exposure to the sun by wearing sun glasses and avoiding smoking can also help to protect the eye. TV exposure does not increase the risk of AMD, but long exposure to blue-violet light LED may do so.

 

 

How can I monitor my eye health?

 

You can self-monitor your vision by checking the Amsler grid, one eye at a time, on a weekly basis. If you see wavy lines or black spots, you should visit your eye specialist and report your symptoms.

 

 

 

Also, annual check-ups with your optician or your eye doctor will help detect any subtle, unnoticeable changes to your macula.

 

 

Are there any early warning signs of the onset of AMD? When should I see a specialist?

 

You should promptly see your ophthalmologist if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • distortion
  • blurred vision
  • abrupt loss of vision
  • appearance of blurred or black spots in your field of vision

 

 

If you are concerned about changes in your quality of vision or symptoms of age related macular degeneration, you can book a consultation with Dr De Salvo by visiting her Top Doctors profile today.

By Dr Gabriella De Salvo
Ophthalmology

Dr Gabriella De Salvo is an internationally recognised consultant ophthalmologist who is based in Southampton and has over 20 years of experience. She provides highly professional and personalised care to adults and paediatric patients aged 3 and older.

Her areas of expertise include the diagnosis and treatment of medical retina conditions such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD)retinal vein occlusion, diabetic retinopathy and central serous chorioretinopathy. Furthermore, she regularly performs procedures such as intravitreal injections of anti-VEGF and intravitreal steroid implants. In fact, she has performed over 10,000 intravitreal injections of VEGF and steroid implants for retinal conditions. As an expert in diagnosing and treating challenging cases, she is available to provide a second opinion for rare and complex retinal disorders as well as for other conditions. 

Based on the work she has published, she ranks in the top 2% of medical retinal specialists in the world.

Dr De Salvo graduated as Medical Doctor at the University of Messina in Italy and completed her specialist training in Ophthalmology at the University of Palermo, Italy. During her training she won various scholarships and was able to deepen her studies at the Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia in the USA and at the University hospital in Vienna, Austria. She completed over a year of advanced training in Medical Retina at Moorfields Eye Hospital, London. She is a keen researcher and lecturer and regularly publishes her work in international peer-reviewed journals and is the principal investigator in various clinical trials. She is actively involved in the teaching of ophthalmologists, allied health professionals and medical students.

Dr De Salvo also works in collaboration with prestigious pharmaceutical companies in the development and research of new medicaments. Specifically she works with Novartis, Bayer, Allergan AbbVie, Heidelberg Engineering.

In addition to ophthalmology, she has a special interest in facial and anti-wrinkle assessment.

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