About the condition
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye condition that affects a tiny part of the retina, called the macula, at the back of the eye.
Causes of AMD
The exact cause of AMD is unclear but the likelihood of developing the condition increases with age, especially after 50. Other factors which may lead to a higher risk of developing the condition include a family history of the condition and smoking.
Symptoms of AMD
- Blurring of your central vision when you look at something directly, for example when reading or watching television
- A blank patch in the centre of your vision
- Both eyes tend to be affected by AMD eventually, although you may only notice problems in one eye to begin with
There are two types of AMD - ‘dry’ and ‘wet’. This describes what happens inside your eye and not how your eye feels i.e. whether you have a watery or dry eye.
The dry form, the more common type of AMD usually develops very slowly over a number of years and causes a gradual change in your central vision. At its worst, it can cause a blank patch in the centre of your vision in both of your eyes but it doesn’t affect your peripheral (side) vision, so never leads to total blindness.
About 10-15% of people who develop AMD have wet AMD. Wet age-related macular degeneration consists of a growth of abnormal blood vessels. These abnormal blood vessels leak and bleed. They cause damage to the retina. The retina is the light sensitive portion of the eye. In the early stages, distortion can be the main problem. As the leakage and bleeding continues, a central blurred patch may develop. Increased difficulty reading may also be a feature. The abnormal blood vessels cause damage to the retina. Eventually a central scar develops and vision is usually then very poor. Early diagnosis, treatment and management can help to prevent serious loss of vision from age-related macular degeneration.
Find out how you can treat AMD by visiting our treatment page.