​Macular Degeneration


Macular degeneration is a disease which affects your sharp, central vision. The macula is the part of the retina where all the nerve cells are very close together and hence this is where the eye focuses the images that we see. Thus, the macula is the part of the eye responsible for helping us see sharp, focused images and fine details.

Macular degeneration is an age-related disease, which means it affects your macula as you age. It is a common cause of vision loss and blindness in older people over sixty five years of age.

There are two types of macular degeneration:

  • Dry form of macular degeneration: This is an early form of the disease, caused due to the aging and thinning of macular tissue, leading to the formation of yellowish spots around the macula. This the more common form of macular degeneration. Smokers, people with a family history of macular degeneration, cardiovascular disease patients and obese people are at a higher risk for developing this disorder.

  • Wet form of macular degeneration: Dry macular degeneration may progress to wet macular degeneration, in which vision loss is rapid. In this disorder, abnormal growth of blood vessels takes place in the retina, and these blood vessels leak blood and fluid into the retina. As a result, light-sensitive retinal cells get damaged, causing blind spots in your vision.


Gradual loss of central vision is the main symptom of macular degeneration. Some initial symptoms of dry macular degeneration include:

  • Straight lines appearing wavy

  • Blurred area in the central vision in one or both eyes

  • Printed words appear blurry

  • Need for brighter light for reading or doing some work in close range

  • Difficulty recognizing faces and distinguishing brightness of colours

  • Adjusting to low light environments with difficulty

As dry macular degeneration progresses into wet macular degeneration, the symptoms worsen and you may experience rapid vision loss of its left untreated. Examples of some symptoms of macular degeneration in the advanced stages are:

  • A clear blurry or blind spot in your field of vision

  • Blurriness or dimming of vision

  • Differences in size or colour of an object when looked at from different eyes

  • Marked visual distortions, for instance straight lines appearing wavy

Macular degeneration doesn’t affect peripheral (sideways) vision. Loss of central vision is a prominent symptom of this disease and must be evaluated by an eye doctor immediately.

If you start noticing the above symptoms of dry macular degeneration, you must seek immediate medical attention. If left untreated, dry macular degeneration can progress into the wet form of the disease, in which vision loss can be very rapid if treatment is not started at the right time. Therefore, early diagnosis and treatment of this disease is very essential.

You can be assured of receiving the best quality medical care at The Aga Khan University Hospital. Our expert and highly trained staff at the Eye and ENT Service Line can provide you with additional information and medical advice. We have an internationally accredited staff with which you can safely and privately discuss your symptoms, gain advice and receive personalized treatment and care.

Your time with your doctor may be limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.

Our team of internationally trained ophthalmologists at The Aga Khan University Hospital are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of eye disorders such as macular degeneration. To enable your eye doctor to make a diagnosis, you must discuss your symptoms in detail, including the specific characteristics of your symptoms, how long you have been having those, distortions in vision or any blind spots in your visual field.

In order to see your retina closely, your doctor will perform special photographic tests using special lights and a dye. Some of these include:

  • Fluorescein Angiogram and/or ICG (Indocyanine Green) Angiography – photos of the retina are taken after a dye is injected in the body

  • OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography) – photos of layers of retina to look for presence of fluids or inflammation

Your doctor will also examine your eyes with the help of dilating eye drops which dilate the pupil and allow the doctor to see the inside of your eye with the help of special instruments.

Other simple tests to check your central vision, such as the Amsler grid, will also be used. In these tests, you will be asked to describe how the straight lines appear to you in the grid.

There is no treatment that can completely cure macular degeneration. However, you may be prescribed treatment options to slow down the progress of the disease and to help you manage your symptoms and improve your vision.

You may be prescribed medications to prevent the growth of abnormal blood vessels - Anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) medicines – which are injected into the eye cavity. Your doctor may also perform a Photodynamic therapy or laser therapy to destroy the abnormal blood vessels.

You may also be prescribed dietary supplements containing certain vitamins and minerals known for reducing vision loss. Vision aids, implants in very special cases and therapy to help you manage your symptoms are also some treatment options for macular degeneration.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.
 
The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.
 
The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.



​The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.