Macular Degeneration

Research study looking for volunteers (for later, when conditions allow)

As part of a research study at Ulster University, funded by the Macular Society, volunteers affected by age-related macular egeneration (AMD) and healthy controls are invited to help investigate sensitivity to light in those with AMD.

The retina at the back of the eye contains light sensitive cells and nerve fibres which allow us to see. Vision is most sensitive in the central part of the retina called the macula. This is because there is a higher number of light sensitive cells and nerve fibres in this area providing detailed, central vision. Sometimes the macula can become damaged, leading to a loss of this kind of vision. Unfortunately, this occurs in AMD.

Central visual field examination is a type of vision test increasingly being used in the detection and monitoring of AMD in hospital eye clinics and in research. The test involves the patient staring at a central cross and pressing a button to indicate if they have detected white spots of light on a grey background which appear at various locations. This allows a sensitivity map of the macula to be produced. Current visual field tests, where spots of light only vary in brightness, are poor at detecting early AMD and monitoring disease progression.

Previous work in other eye diseases has shown that the sensitivity of visual field tests to the damage these diseases cause can be improved by simply changing the size of the spot used.

This study will therefore aim to investigate the performance of a central visual field test that uses spots of light scaled to reflect the changes that occur in the visual system caused by AMD, compared with current visual field tests. We will also look at how well the measurements collected with this test relate to the structural features of AMD in the retina, and to the impact of vision loss caused by AMD on quality of life.

We wish to recruit both healthy controls and AMD volunteers aged between 55 – 90 years, and able to come to the Coleraine campus of Ulster University (reimbursement of up to a maximum of £20 for travel costs is available). If you are interested in taking part in this study as a healthy control or AMD volunteer, or have any questions relating to this research, please contact Aoife Hunter using the contact details below.



Aoife Hunter BSc MCOptom

Macular Society PhD Student/Optometrist


Tel: 028 7012 3718