Age-Related Macular Degeneration

What You Should Know

Macular degeneration, often called age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is an eye disorder associated with aging and results in damaging sharp and central vision.

Central vision is needed for seeing objects clearly and for common daily tasks such as reading and driving. AMD affects the macula, the central part the retina that allows the eye to see fine details.

There are two forms of AMD, wet and dry.

Wet AMD:
When abnormal blood vessel behind the retina start to grow under the macula, ultimately leading to blood and fluid leakage. Bleeding, leaking, and scarring from these blood vessels cause damage and lead to rapid central vision loss. An early symptom of wet AMD is that straight lines appear wavy.

Dry AMD:
When the macula thins overtime as part of aging process, gradually blurring central vision. The dry form is more common and accounts for 70-90% of cases of AMD and it progresses more slowly than the wet form. Over time, as less of the macula functions, central vision is gradually lost in the affected eye. Dry AMD generally affects both eyes.

One of the most common early signs of dry AMD is drusen:

Drusen are tiny yellow or white deposits under the retina. They often are found in people over age 60. The presence of small drusen is normal and does not cause vision loss. However, the presence of large and more numerous drusen raises the risk of developing advanced dry AMD or wet AMD.

It is estimated that 1.8 million Americans 40 years and older are affected by AMD and an additional 7.3 million with large drusen are at substantial risk of developing AMD. The number of people with AMD is estimated to reach 2.95 million in 2020. AMD is the leading cause of permanent impairment of reading and fine or close-up vision among people aged 65 years and older. (courtesy of CDC – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

Definition, Causes, Symptoms

Please visit the National Eye Institute website with patient information on Macular Degeneration. The site is designed to help patients and their families search for general information about age-related macular degeneration. An eye care professional who has examined the patient's eyes and is familiar with his or her medical history is the best person to answer specific questions.

General overview for Patients, Families and Friends

Perhaps you have just learned that you or a loved one has age-related macular degeneration. If you are like many people, you probably do not know a lot about the condition or understand what is going on inside your eyes.

Experience firsthand how a person with age-related macular degeneration sees the environment.  Check the CDC Website for different types of age-related macular degeneration.