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Understanding Macula Screening: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Welcome to our blog, where we will delve into the topic of diagnostic macula screening, an essential process in safeguarding the health of our eyes and super fine detailed vision. The macula is a critical part of the retina responsible for central fine detailed vision and colour perception. This blog aims to provide you with valuable insights into diagnostic macula screening, the underlying causes of macular issues, common symptoms to watch out for, and potential treatment options. 

What is Diagnostic Macula Screening? 

Diagnostic macula screening is a preventive eye examination by a Consultant ophthalmologist who is a Retinal Specialist designed to detect early signs of macular diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy. Regular diagnostic macula screening is vital for maintaining good vision and preventing vision loss due to these potentially sight-threatening conditions. 

Causes of Macular Issues:

a. Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD): AMD is mainly associated with aging and is one of the leading causes of vision loss in older adults. Factors like genetics, smoking, and a poor diet high in saturated fats and low in antioxidants can increase the risk of AMD.

b. Diabetic Retinopathy (DR): Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes and occurs when high blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels in the retina, including the macula, giving central Diabetic Macular Oedema (DMO) with blurred central vision.

Symptoms of Macular Issues: 

a. Blurred or Distorted central Vision:  

One of the initial signs of macular problems is blurred or distorted central vision, which can affect fine visual tasks like reading or recognising faces. 

b. Dark or Empty Spots:  

Individuals with macular issues may experience dark or empty spots in their central vision. 

c. Colour Perception Changes:  

Macular problems can affect colour vision, leading to difficulty distinguishing certain colours. 

The Importance of Diagnostic Macula Screening: 

Early detection of macular issues through regular screenings by the Ophthalmologist is crucial as it allows for timely intervention and management of conditions that could otherwise progress and lead to severe vision loss. 

At Clinica London we have four amazing Opthalmic Consultants who are Retinal Specialists. They are all highly qualified and experienced in the assessment and treatment of macular disorders.  

  • Professor Michel Michaelides  
  • Mr Julian Robins 
  • Ms Evegenia Anikina  
  • Ms Stacey Strong  

Diagnostic Macula Screening Techniques: 

a. Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT):  

OCT is a non-invasive imaging diagnostic technique done using the Heidelberg Spectralis OCT, that provides detailed cross-sectional images of the layers of the retina, including the layers of the macula, helping to detect abnormalities. 

b. Fundus Photography:  

Fundus photography involves capturing images of the retina to monitor changes and identify any irregularities. The Californian wide field Scanning Laser Ophthalmoscope (SLO) is used which is a wonderful test showing all of the macula and retina. 

c. Fundus Fluoresein Angiography:  

In this test intravenous fluorescein is given painlessly into an arm vein and an analysis is made of the rapid sequence of the flow of fluorescein through the retinal blood vessels and macular region of the eye. This is called Fundus Fluorescein Angiography (FFA). 

Treatment Options: 

a. AMD Treatment:  

Treatment for AMD may involve the use of anti-VEGF medications injected into the vitreous gel of the eye under local anaesthetic drops as an out-patient, to slow down abnormal blood vessel growth, focal laser treatment  or photodynamic therapy (PDT) to target specific cells in the macula. 

b. Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment:  

Management of diabetic retinopathy includes controlling blood sugar levels, laser treatment to seal leaking blood vessels, and in advanced cases, vitrectomy surgery. 

Yearly Diagnostic Macula Screening  

This is essential for maintaining good eye health and preventing vision loss caused by macular diseases. If you experience any symptoms related to your central vision, consult an eye care professional promptly. We recommend that you go straight to one of our Consultant Ophthalmologists specialising in retina and macula disorders.  

Remember, early detection and intervention can make a significant difference in preserving your vision and quality of life. Stay proactive about your eye health, and don’t hesitate to schedule a macula screening today! 

If you have a family history of macular disease and you are 60 years and over, you should have yearly diagnostic macular screening with one of our four specialist retinal consultant ophthalmologists.  

More about Diagnostic Macula Screening 

Diagnostic eye macula screening is a process used to detect and monitor various eye conditions that affect the macula, not just AMD and DR. Here are some fascinating facts about macula screening: 

  1. Importance of Early Detection: Diagnostic Macula Screening is essential for the early detection of eye conditions that can lead to permanent vision loss, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy. Detecting these conditions early on allows for timely intervention and treatment, which can help preserve vision and prevent further deterioration.
  2. Non-Invasive Procedure: Diagnostic macula screening is a non-invasive procedure that does not involve any physical contact with the eye. It typically uses advanced imaging techniques, such as optical coherence tomography (OCT), fundus photography with scanning laser ophthalmoscopy (SLO) and fundus fluorescein angiography (FFA) to capture detailed images of the macula and identify any abnormalities.
  3. Painless and Quick: The diagnostic macula screening process is painless and usually takes only a few minutes to complete. Patients are not required to undergo any preparation, and the images obtained are immediately available for evaluation by eye care professionals.
  4. Regular retinal Screening is Recommended: For individuals at risk of developing macular conditions, regular retinal screening is highly recommended. Risk factors include age, family history of eye diseases, high blood pressure, smoking, and diabetes. Regular retinal screening can help monitor the progression of conditions and provide timely treatment if needed.
  5. Cutting-Edge Technology: Advancements in technology have significantly improved macula screening accuracy and efficiency. High-resolution OCT using the Heidelberg Spectralis diagnostic machine and other imaging tools allow eye care professionals to detect subtle changes in the macula, even before symptoms are noticeable to the patient.
  6. Potential for Telemedicine: Diagnostic acula screening can be conducted through telemedicine in certain cases, making it more accessible to individuals in remote or underserved areas. The patient attends for diagnostic macula screening and following secure image transmission, enables the Consultant Ophthalmologist  to remotely assess patients’ macular health.
  7. Complementary to Comprehensive Eye Exams: While diagnostic macula screening is valuable for detecting specific macular conditions, it complements comprehensive eye exams, which evaluate the overall health of the eyes and detect other potential issues like cataracts, glaucoma, or refractive errors.
  8. Not a Replacement for Treatment: It’s important to note that diagnostic macula screening is a diagnostic tool and not a treatment in itself. If any abnormalities or macular conditions are detected, further evaluation and treatment by an eye care specialist are necessary for appropriate management.
  9. Public Health Impact: Regular diagnostic macula screening is considered an important aspect of public health initiatives aimed at reducing avoidable blindness and visual impairment due to macular conditions.
  10. Research and Innovation: Ongoing research and technological advancements continue to enhance diagnostic macula screening methods, leading to better diagnostic accuracy and improved patient outcomes. 

How to get Diagnostic Macula Screening 

Remember, if you have any concerns about your vision or eye health, it’s essential to consult with an eye care professional, Consultant Retinal Specialist, who can recommend the most appropriate screening and treatment for your specific needs. 

If you have risk factors for AMD, DM or DMO, or are experiencing early symptoms of central vision distortion or reduction of visual acuity (blurred vision), you should urgently seek an appointment with one of our retinal specialists. Call 020 795 7990 for an appointment with Professor Michaelides, Mr Julian Robins, Ms Evgenia Anikina, and last but not least, Ms Stacey Strong. 

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