Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a problem with your retina. It happens when a part of the retina called the macula is damaged. With AMD you lose your central vision. You cannot see fine details, whether you are looking at something close or far. But your peripheral (side) vision will still be normal. For instance, imagine you are looking at a clock with hands. With AMD, you might see the clock’s numbers but not the hands.

Who Is at Risk for AMD?

You are more likely to develop AMD if you:

  • eat a diet high in saturated fat (found in foods like meat, butter and cheese)
  • are overweight
  • cigarette smoker
  • are over 50 years old
  • have hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • have a family history of AMD
  • having heart disease is another risk factor for AMD, as is having high cholesterol levels.


If you're in the early stages of age-related macular degeneration you may not have symptoms. The first sign you may notice is a gradual or sudden change in the quality of your vision or that straight lines appear distorted to you. This may gradually turn into a dramatic loss of your central vision.


Other symptoms include:

  • Dark, blurry areas or whiteout that appears in the center of your vision
  • In rare cases, you may have a change in your perception of color

What is the treatment?

There's no cure, but treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) may slow the disease and keep you from having a severe loss of vision.

Your Treatment Options

Anti-angiogenic drugs: Your doctor injects these medications into your eye. They stop new blood vessels from forming and block the leaking from the abnormal vessels that cause wet macular degeneration.

Laser therapy: Your doctor may suggest a treatment with high-energy laser light that can sometimes destroy actively growing abnormal blood vessels from AMD.

Diagnosis & Tests Available

Optical coherence tomography (OCT): It's a special photograph that shows a magnified 3D image of your retina. This method helps your doctor see if your retinal layers are distorted. He can also see if swelling is getting better or worse if you had treatment with injections or laser.


Fluorescein angiography: In this procedure, your doctor injects a dye into a vein in your arm. He takes photos as the dye reaches your eye and flows through the blood vessels of the retina. The images will show new vessels or vessels that are leaking fluid or blood in the macula -- a small area at the center of your retina.

Myths / Frequently Asked Questions

1Can anything be done for macular degeneration?
Answer: There is as yet no outright cure for age-related macular degeneration, but some treatments may delay its progression or even improve vision. Treatments for macular degeneration depend on whether the disease is in its early-stage, dry form or in the more advanced, wet form that can lead to serious vision loss.
2How long does it take for macular degeneration to cause blindness?
Answer: On average, it takes about 10 years to move from diagnosis to legal blindness, but there are some forms of macular degeneration that can cause sight loss in just days.
3Does age related macular degeneration get worse?
Answer: AMD is a common eye condition and a leading cause of vision loss among people age 50 and older. ... In some people, AMD advances so slowly that vision loss does not occur for a long time. In others, the disease progresses faster and may lead to a loss of vision in one or both eyes.
4What is the best treatment for macular degeneration?
Answer: Treatments for Wet AMD: Anti-VEGF Therapy VEGF is an acronym for vascular endothelial growth factor. Currently, the most common and effective clinical treatment for wet Age-related Macular Degeneration is anti-VEGF therapy – which is periodic intravitreal (into the eye) injection of a chemical called an “anti-VEGF.”
5Do you always go blind with macular degeneration?
Answer:Many patients are frightened of losing vision or going blind when they are told they have age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Fortunately, most patients with AMD can keep good vision for their entire lives, and even those who lose their central vision almost always maintain their side, or “peripheral” vision.
6Can you drive a car with macular degeneration?
Answer: Macular degeneration can distort your central vision and can lead to loss of sharp vision. Macular degeneration also can make it difficult to see road signs, traffic, and people walking, and may affect your ability to drive safely.
7Are floaters a sign of macular degeneration?
    Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 55. ... The following are NOT known to be linked to macular degeneration: floaters (moving spots caused by debris floating in the vitreous fluid between the lens and the retina); dry eye syndromes; cataracts and cataract surgery.
8Which is worse glaucoma or macular degeneration?
Answer:Although macular degeneration does not affect the disease process of glaucoma, it can contribute to decreased vision along with glaucoma. The vision loss that may occur in glaucoma usually affects side vision, whereas macular degeneration tends to affect central vision.