Commonly Asked Questions
Macular degeneration is a collective name for a group of degenerative diseases of the retina of the eye. It most frequently affects people over the age of 50 and is then known as ‘age related macular degeneration’ (AMD or ARMD).
There are some misconceptions and commonly asked questions regarding macular degeneration.
Is macular degeneration contagious?
No. MD can not be passed on from person to person.
Will resting my eyes put off the onset of MD should I be prone to it?
Once a person has MD, using the eyes will have no impact on the progress or otherwise of the condition. If you have MD in one eye, resting the unaffected eye will have no impact on the risk of developing MD in that eye.
My eyes are often watery. Does this mean I have the wet form of MD?
Watery eyes, bloodshot eyes, dry or itchy eyes have no bearing on what is happening to the retina at the back of the eye. MD will not affect the front part of the eye in any way.
Is there any pain associated with macular degeneration?
Because there is no pain or discomfort associated with MD, it is important to regularly check your eyesight or have it checked. Any degeneration that is occurring will happen without you being aware until the time when the changes start to affect your vision.
What if I change my spectacles? Will that help?
Spectacles act on the lens at the front of the eye sending a better image to the retina at the back of the eye. If the retina is damaged or degenerating, altering your spectacles will not help.
What are the other types of macular degeneration?
ARMD is the most common form. There are several forms of MD which are genetically inherited. Early onset macular degeneration affects those from birth to age 7. Middle onset (commonly called Stargardt’s disease) affects people from 5 to 20 years of age. Also inherited is Sorsby’s dystrophy (also known as Behr’s, Doyne’s or honeycomb dystrophy) affects those in their 30s and 40s.
Those people who are extremely myopic (short-sighted) can experience myopic macular degeneration due to extreme elongation of the eyeball resulting in tearing of the macula and bleeding behind the retina.
If younger people (under 50) get other forms of MD it is often inherited. Some young women are prone to idiopathic blood vessels for which no cause can be found and people with myopia may be at risk of wet MD but trials on this are not conclusive yet.
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I’ve heard of a macular hole? What is this?
A macular hole is more of a traumatic event, caused when the vitreous gel which fills the eye pulls on the retina, causing a hole to develop. Such holes can be surgically repaired and vision may be restored unlike MD for which there is no cure.
>Can I see if my retina is damaged?
The retina lines the inside of the eye and only an eye specialist can examine the retina for damage. He will dilate the pupil (this is a painless procedure) giving him a clear view of the retina and macula.
I already have a cataract. Will this impact on MD?
Clinically cataracts, diabetic retinopathy or glaucoma have no impact on MD. If there is vision deficits from other causes, MD will exacerbate the loss but one condition doesn’t impact on the other.