The Spectator

Dry Macular Degeneration at The Eye Place

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As I write this, I wonder how much readers know about macular disease. You will probably have heard of the retina and know that it is the structure at the back of your eye that enables you to see. The macula is part of this intricate system of vision that so many of us are fortunate enough to be able to process. However, unfortunately there are many who have issues with these processes not working correctly, resulting in problems with their sight. 
Sight problems can be caused by several different issues such as glaucoma, diabetes, cataracts and macular disease or degeneration. 
Macular disease is a term that encompasses several macular problems. They affect the macula resulting in vision loss, and nearly 1.5 million people in the UK have macular disease according to the Macula Society, with around 300 people diagnosed every day. Macular disease is the biggest cause of sight loss in the UK. 
You may have heard macular degeneration referred to as 'age related macular degeneration' or AMD for short, but this is just one type, and it can affect people of any age. At present not enough is known about the disease and there is no cure, however, with the help of donations to the Macular Society, research is being carried out and potential treatments are being trialled, and there is reason to believe that one day, there will be a cure. 
Losing your sight can be debilitating and isolating. Our ability to get out and about, move around the home, read, watch TV, cook a meal and recognise people are things we take for granted, but macular disease restricts your ability to do these things as it results 
in central vision loss, with everything you look at appearing to have a black spot in the middle of it. This black spot then grows in size and restricts any usable vision to the very periphery of your normal view. 
Early detection of any disease is most important, and the earlier the disease, or cause of the disease, is found, the greater the chance of halting or slowing down the progression. The simplest thing we can do on a regular basis is to have a comprehensive eye examination. 
There are two great advancements that have the chance of helping reduce the development of macular disease and slowing its progress. 
The first relates to reducing those who could potentially get it, and this starts with slowing down the onset of myopia (short sightedness) from a young age. At The Eye Place we have been fitting contact lenses, and now spectacles, that can help to slow down the onset and progression of myopia for the past 18 years. This is called myopia management and is best started from 
the earliest age possible, such as when spectacles are first prescribed, or, in some children, even earlier than that when the risk factors are much higher. 
The second is very new and helps treat and manage dry AMD, which is the most common of the macular diseases. Up until last year, we monitored our dry AMD patients closely because there is a high incidence of dry turning into wet AMD where you lose vision more quickly, and early intervention by an ophthalmologist with anti-VEGF injections is paramount. We also recommend a healthy lifestyle, diet, blue light protective spectacles, and macular supplements. We can now add to this advice by discussing with our patients who have early signs of dry macular degeneration the latest development in slowing its progression: the LumiThera Valeda. 

The Valeda is a light delivery system that uses three specific wavelengths of light which has been proven to improve mitochondrial output and bioenergetics within the retinal tissues. This improved bioenergetics/ mitochondrial output has been shown to 
slow down the progression of dry AMD in 80 per cent of treated patients (Lightsite 1-111 studies) measured at 13 months. The 80 per cent showed improved measured vision and a reduction in the quantifiable macular disease. Unfortunately, 20 per cent had no improvement nor a quantifiable reduction in progression. 

Left: A “normal” eye. Right: An eye with Dry AMD

If you would like to know more or find out whether you or someone in your family is suitable for any of the above, please book in for a comprehensive eye examination at The Eye Place with one of our eyecare professionals. 
There is also information on our website about all that has been mentioned here, and more about The Eye Place services. 


Words by Alex Kemp, Managing Director of The Eye Place Opticians