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Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)  is the most common cause of severe loss of eyesight among people 50 and older. AMD is an issue with the retina. It happens when a part of the retina called the macula is damaged. 



  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects central vision and the ability to see fine details. In advanced stages, people lose their ability to drive, see faces, and read smaller print.

  • AMD can result in severe loss of central vision, but people rarely go blind from it.

  • Although there is no cure for AMD, there are treatment options that may prevent or slow the progression of the disease.


Types of Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Causes

The two primary types of age-related macular degeneration have different causes:

  • Dry. This type is the most common. About 80% of those with AMD have the dry form. 

  • Wet. Though this type is less common, it usually leads to more severe vision loss in patients than dry AMD.


Risk Factors

  • Being 50 and older

  • Eating a diet high in saturated fat or having high cholesterol.

  • Smoking

  • High blood pressure or hypertension

  • Heart disease

  • Family history of AMD



  • Blurry or fuzzy vision

  • Difficulty recognizing familiar faces

  • Straight lines appear wavy

  • A dark, empty area or blind spot appears in the center of the vision.

  • Loss of central vision, which is necessary for driving, reading, recognizing faces, and performing close-up work



In addition to a complete medical history and eye exam, an eye doctor may do the following tests to diagnose age-related macular degeneration:

  • Pupil dilation

  • Fluorescein angiography

  • Amsler grid

Visual acuity test Image: Amsler grid might look like with AMD.







Treatment Options:

Although there is no cure for dry age-related macular degeneration, specific treatment for age-related macular degeneration will be determined by the  doctor based on the following:

  • Age, overall health, and medical history

  • Extent and nature of the disease

  • Tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or low-vision therapies

  • Expectations for the course of the disease

  • Dry-type might benefit from taking daily vitamins and supplements of (Vitamin C and E, Lutein, Zeaxanthin, Zinc, and Copper)

Mental Health Impacts

Both depression and anxiety are common in older adults, but even more so in those with vision impairment; the prevalence is approximately twice that of those with no vision problems. Learn more about identifying and managing depression here and anxiety here.

Making the Most of the Vision You Have

With a diagnosis of  AMD, one can learn how to make the most of their vision. Daily activities and other leisure pursuits can be completed with special low-vision tools. These include magnifying devices, handheld computers, electronic items, and more. Also, individuals can learn how to use side vision to help do things. A vision rehabilitation specialist can assist with this.

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