Common Health Problems  »  Eye Conditions

Macular degeneration is a progressive eye disorder. Known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), it is the most common cause of central vision loss in older Americans. The central part of the retina (the macula) deteriorates. This results in the loss of central (straight-ahead) vision. One or both eyes may be affected. The most common type is called the dry form. With this, cells under the retina do not function well, causing subtle to overt blank spots in central vision. Only 1 to 2% of people with the dry form have a lot of vision loss. In the wet form, tiny blood vessels leak blood or fluid around the macula. The wet form is less common than the dry form. It causes more vision loss, though.

Signs & Symptoms

Macular degeneration is painless. It usually develops gradually, especially the dry form. With the wet form, symptoms can occur more rapidly. Symptoms for both forms are:

  1. Blurred or cloudy vision.

  2. Seeing a dark or blind spot at the center of vision.

  3. A hard time reading or doing other close-up work.

  4. A hard time doing any activity, such as driving, that needs sharp vision.

  5. Complete loss of central vision. Side vision is not affected.


The exact cause of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is not known. Risk factors are:

  1. Advancing age.

  2. Cigarette smoking. High blood pressure.

  3. Family history of AMD.

  4. Having light-colored eyes.

  5. Exposure to ultraviolet light.

  6. Poor diet.

Questions to Ask


Treatment for the wet form includes photodynamic therapy and laser therapy. Medicine called “anti-VEGF therapy” can also be given. Most dry form cases are not treatable. Your eye doctor may prescribe special eyeglasses and low vision aids. He or she may also prescribe a specific high dose vitamin and mineral to reduce the risk of advanced AMD.

Self-Care / Prevention

To Reduce the Risk for AMD

  1. Don’t smoke. If you smoke, quit.

  2. Follow a healthy diet. Include green leafy vegetables and fish.

  3. Protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Wear sunglasses with UV block. Wear a hat with a wide brim.

  4. Use Self-Care / Prevention measures to control high blood pressure and heart disease.

To Treat AMD

  1. Wear the special eyeglasses and use other vision aids, such as magnifying devices, as advised by your doctor.

  2. Talk to your doctor before taking vitamin and mineral supplements.

Do you have signs and symptoms of macular degeneration listed above, especially if they come on quickly?


Macular Degeneration Foundation

National Eye Institute (NEI)