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June 2009 Macular Degeneration & Eye Diseases David Morris

June 2009 - Macular Degeneration & Eye Diseases

At the June 4th. meeting David Morris, Regional Coordinator for The Macular Disease Society gave a talk on Macular Degeneration & Eye Diseases which lead to loss or impaired central vision.

This is a subject close to the heart of any retired age group, as MD is  more dominant in the over 50/60,s and more prevalent in the female sex. In his talk David highlighted the desirability for early diagnosis usually by an Optician and then the need for help available within the Health Service. He described the symptoms of both Wet and Dry Macular Degeneration and mentioned simple sight tests whish could give a first confirmation of problems. Dry macular degeneration is due to a gradual deterioration of the macula. Wet MD is due to leaking blood vessels behind the retina and rapid diagnosis and follow-up is essential and should be in days not weeks or months.

Age is a main related cause, and smoking and poor diet can be contributory factors. Fruit and green leafy vegetables are good as also foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. Exposure to bright sunlight is a negative influence and filters to reduce blue and UV light are helpful.

Various treatments were reviewed also lens implants to better use peripheral vision, and also eccentric viewing techniques to improve reading. It was stressed that it is central vision which deteriorates, with peripheral vision often unaffected.

Long-term research in stem cell developments may offer improvements but are many years away. Assistance to manage the progression of MD via Lucentis and its cheaper alternate Avastin may be helpful, although availability is subject to NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence)  postal code decision.

 The Macular Disease Society- Helpline 0845 241 2041- is a good source of information and counseling support.

There was an active question and discussion following the meeting in which the Chairman, Dr.Mike Green helped to relate MD to general conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.