Eyesight: 1 in 3 Britons have common ailment that is the ‘leading’ cause of blindness

Dr Manesh Saxena explains new blood pressure injection

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What’s more, a common ailment that affects one in three Britons can lead to age-related macular degeneration, which is the “leading” course of blindness. High blood pressure, otherwise known as hypertension, affects one in three Britons, the charity Blood Pressure UK pointed out. Moreover, having a high blood pressure reading is linked to age-related macular degeneration, the NHS certified.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

The condition typically begins in a person’s 50s and thereafter, which can lead to partial blindness.

AMD affects the middle part of a person’s vision, causing blurriness and distortion.

“If it gets worse, you might struggle to see anything in the middle of your vision,” the NHS warned.

AMD can affect one eye, or both, and it can make numerous day-to-day activities more arduous.

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Examples include watching TV, reading, driving, and recognising faces.

AMD may also lead to:

  • Seeing straight lines as wavy or crooked
  • Objects looking smaller than normal
  • Colours seeming less bright than they used to
  • Seeing things that are not there (hallucinations).

If you are fastidious with your eye examinations, an optometrist is likely to pick up on early warning signs of AMD before symptoms present themselves.

There are two types of AMD: dry and wet. The former is caused by a build-up of a fatty substance, known as druse, at the back of the eyes.

Dry AMD is more common, and the condition tends to worsen over a number of years.

Wet AMD, on the other hand, while less common, can rapidly worsen within a matter of days or weeks.

Wet AMD is “caused by the growth of abnormal blood vessels at the back of the eyes”.

Treatment is needed to help prevent vision from getting worse, so prompt diagnosis is key.

Treatment might involve regular eye injections and a light treatment called photodynamic therapy.

Injections can improve the vision for three out of 10 people who have wet AMD.

Before the injection is given, eye drops are given to numb the area, leading to “minimal discomfort”.

For nine out of 10 patients treated, injections help to stop vision from getting worse.

What is photodynamic therapy?

“A light is shined at the back of the eyes to destroy the abnormal blood vessels that cause wet AMD,” the NHS explained.

This type of treatment typically needs to be done repeatedly and in conjunction with injections.

Side effects may include temporary vision problems, and sensitivity to light for a few days or weeks.

In addition to high blood pressure, AMD is linked to: obesity, smoking, and having a family history of the condition.

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