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Living with macular degeneration

Macular degeneration is the most common cause of sight loss amongst older people.   

How does macular degeneration affect what someone can see?

Macular degeneration causes a loss of central vision so that details and colours are difficult to see.  This makes reading, writing, recognising faces and seeing in front of you difficult.  To some people, straight lines appear wavy, or they may find a smudge or blank section in the centre of their visual field.  For some people, objects or words on a page will suddenly disappear, move or look distorted.  Everyone with macular degeneration will have different levels of sight and will experience their sight loss differently.Photograph showing dark patch in the middle which obscures the faces of two children.  picture illustrates vision with macular degeneration

For many, there will the ongoing worry of further deterioration.  For some, there may other eye conditions affecting other parts of their vision that compound the effect of the macular degeneration.

The impact of Macular Degeneration

The reduced vision caused by macular degeneration makes many day to day activities more difficult, causing a loss of self-confidence and independence. The person is usually no longer able to drive.  Identifying where the edge of the grey kerb can be difficult against the grey road and people can lose confidence in getting out and about independently, worried that they are going to fall and injure themselves.  Learning to use public transport with reduced vision can be daunting.  

Practical difficulties caused by not being able to see faces, colours and details mean that the pleasure of taking part in hobbies, interests and activities is significantly reduced and can leave the person with macular degeneration feeling left out and isolated.  These difficulties and experiences can lead to low mood and depression as the person with macular degeneration struggles to come to terms with accepting themselves as someone who is visually impaired.

Being diagnosed with macular degeneration

Being diagnosed with Macular Degeneration can be devastating.  Getting information at this point is crucial to helping people to find ways of dealing the many difficulties caused by sight loss.  The local Eye Clinic Liaison Officer can play a vital role at this stage, providing information and advice about the diagnosis and signposting people to support services.  North East Sensory Services’ Hospital Information service provides the Eye Clinic Liaison role at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.  

Find out about the top tips to living with macular degeneration tomorrow.