OCT 3D eye scans and age related macular degeneration
OCT 3D eye scans and age related macular degeneration by Adelle Kirkpatrick
What is AMD?
AMD stands for age related macular degeneration. This is an eye condition that affects the Macula at the back of your eye. When light enters your eye, it is focused onto your retina. There are a number of layers that make up your retina but the most important layer relating to vision is made up of cells called photoreceptors. The macula is a tiny area of the retina about the size of a pinhead. It contains millions of specialised photoreceptor cells called cone cells.
If someone develops AMD, it is the cone cells that become damaged and stop working. This results in a reduction of the central vision, colour vision and detailed vision. As the name suggests, AMD occurs with age. Around 1 in 2000 people aged 60 years old will have AMD and this increases to 1 in 5 people aged 90 or older.
How will I know if I have AMD?
As AMD affects the central vision, it will not lead to complete vision loss. It can occur in one eye or both.
As AMD affects the central vision, it will not lead to complete vision loss. It can occur in one eye or both. Main symptoms reported by people with AMD are;
- Wavy or distorted vision, door frames and lampposts are no longer straight. They have a “kink” or “wave” in them. Some people report the top of lampposts toppling over.
- Difficulty with near tasks such as reading or sewing even when wearing reading glasses. The print may seem faded or have a smudge on it. It may just feel a bit blurred.
- Detailed vision becomes more difficult e.g. recognising faces on TV or in the street.
- An increase of sensitivity to light or seeing things that are not actually there.
Types of AMD
1) Dry AMD- This is the more common type of AMD. Damage to the macula occurs very slowly and vision loss is very gradual. It can take many years for this to happen.
1) Wet AMD- This affects 10-15% of people with AMD. Wet AMD occurs when the cone cells become damaged. To fix the problem, your body grows new vessels. These vessels grow in the wrong layer of your retina and are weak structures. They leak and bleed easily causing haemorrhages and fluid to build underneath the macula. The fluid and vessels require treatment but usually lead to scarring which will affect your central vision. This type of AMD occurs very quickly and causes sudden loss of vision. Wet AMD is therefore the more severe type and needs urgent medical attention. It usually affects one eye first.
The picture above illustrates how your macula will look to an Optometrist. The picture on the left is a normal macula. The picture in the middle is Dry Macular Degeneration. Damage shows as yellow spots called Drusen. The image on the right shows Wet Macular Degeneration, blood and fluid from leaking vessels can be seen at the macula. This is where it gets the term WET AMD.
Should you notice any changes to your vision, make an appointment in your nearest branch of Valli Opticians to have a thorough check up. If severe vision loss occurs suddenly you can also go to be checked at A+E.
Treatment of Dry AMD
Dry AMD currently has no treatment. At Valli Opticians, you will have regular eye examinations and will be closely monitored if you show signs of dry AMD. Your Optometrist will discuss diet and lifestyle changes and possibly advise nutritional supplements which have been linked to slowing progression of dry AMD.
Treatment of Wet AMD
If you are diagnosed with Wet AMD this can be treated in Hospital. Treatment needs to be administered as quickly as possible to stop new vessels growing and reduce the amount of fluid building up under the macula.
Wet AMD is treated with injections into the affected eye. The treatment is designed to interfere with the process that makes the new leaky vessels. It stops them from being able to grow and therefore reduces the amount of fluid under the macula. These injections are administered every 4-6 weeks and must be done in a hospital environment.
Ongoing Monitoring of AMD
AMD can have a big impact on a person’s life. The key is to diagnose AMD as quickly as possible. Once diagnosed, your optometrist will either refer you for treatment or suggest a monitoring plan.
At Valli Opticians, we have invested in a state of the art machine called an OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography). This machine takes a 3D scan the retina of your eye (like an Ultrasound). It is painless and very quick. One of our Optometrists will be able to assess the different layers of your retina. We will see any damage to the photoreceptors, any abnormal vessel growth or fluid under the macula. By using our OCT we hope to be able to diagnose AMD earlier and reduce the impact to your vision and to daily life.
This picture shows the 3D scan generated by OCT scanner.
An OCT scan is also useful to monitor AMD and follow the progression of the disease. We can compare scans to see how fast dry AMD is progressing and to try to predict if it will become the Wet type. Using OCT scans to monitor this will enable your optician to tailor an eye test to you personally and provide ongoing advice and support. We strongly recommend that patients with AMD have OCT scans twice a year.
At Valli Opticians, we offer a Macular Monitoring Programme. Starting at £4.25 per month, the programme includes a minimum of two OCT macula scans per year.