Eye Conditions

Age Related Macular Degeneration

This is a condition which affects the macula, a part of the retina at the back of the eye. The macula enables us to see detail, for example print, and to appreciate colour, with macular degeneration, your central vision is damaged, making it hard to read and recognise faces. However, there are a variety of optical aids available which can help you to make the most of your remaining sight.

Age-related Macular Degeneration (ARMD) is the leading cause of visual impairment in the UK. The macular is the central part of the retina, which is responsible for detailed vision. As the eyes age, the layer of the retina that nourishes and maintains the cells in the macular can start to malfunction. This leads to a breakdown of cells in the macular, which results in the loss of central vision.

ARMD is most commonly found in people aged 65 and over, with the risk of developing the condition doubling in women aged 75 and over.

As ARMD normally progresses gradually, people may only slowly notice changes in their vision. In the early stages, vision may be blurry or distorted and there may be problems with glare and adapting between light and dark conditions. As the macular cells continue to degenerate, the loss of central vision begins to affect the ability to read, see fine detail and recognise faces. People with ARMD do, however, retain their peripheral vision.

For more information on ARMD contact Visibility or

The Macular Disease Society
PO Box 1870
SP10 9AD
Tel: 01264 350551

RNIB produces a leaflet called ‘Understanding age-related macular degeneration’.


Glaucoma is an eye condition that affects 2 people in 100 over the age of 40 in the UK. Glaucoma causes damage to the optic nerve, and normally results from a combination of increased pressure in the eye and a weakness in the optic nerve. The eyeball needs to maintain a certain level of pressure to keep in shape and function properly, but if too much fluid is produced by the eye or if it cannot escape due to a blockage, pressure increases and damage can be caused.

Early symptoms of glaucoma are often difficult to detect, as your vision may seem normal. For this reason, it is important to have regular eye tests over the age of 40, or at all ages if there is a family history of the condition. If glaucoma goes untreated, it leads to 'tunnel vision'. Site is lost from the outer part of the visual field, so that eventually vision can be compared to looking through a tunnel or a long tube.

For more information on glaucoma, contact Visibility or

The International Glaucoma Association
108c Warner Road
Tel: 020 7737 3265


Woodcote House,

15 Highpoint Business Village,

Henwood, Ashford,

Kent TN24 8DH;

helpline: 0870 609 1870;


For further information, RNIB produces a useful leaflet called ‘Understanding glaucoma’.


A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye, which leads to blurred vision and can be compared to looking through frosted glass or a very dirty car windscreen. They affect many people over the age of 60, as well as younger people who have other eye conditions. The symptoms of cataracts, as well as blurred vision, include being dazzled by bright light, the impression that glasses are dirty or scratched, and faded colour vision.

Cataracts are treated through a simple operation that is normally done under local anaesthetic. The damaged lens is removed, and a permanent, plastic replacement lens is inserted. After the operation, most people notice an instant improvement in their sight. Normally, however, it takes several months for the eye to completely heal and for the vision to be fully restored.


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