Age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, is an eye disease that damages the central part of the retina, called the macula. The macula is responsible for seeing fine detail.
Macular degeneration causes loss of central vision, but not side (peripheral) vision. It is called age-related when it happens in people 50 or older as part of the aging process.
Macular degeneration has two forms: dry and wet. Dry macular degeneration is more common, but wet macular degeneration causes faster vision loss. Dry AMD sometimes turns into wet AMD.
Dry macular degeneration
About 90 percent of people with AMD have the dry form. Dry macular degeneration happens when the macula thins and breaks down over time. Protein deposits called drusen build up under the retina, causing vision loss.
Symptoms of dry AMD can include:
- Blurry vision
- Gradual vision loss in one or both eyes
- Problems reading, driving or doing other activities that require sharp vision
- Needing more light or a magnifying lens for activities
If you have these symptoms, see an eye doctor. A dilated eye exam is the only way to tell if you have AMD.
Wet macular degeneration
About 10 percent of people with AMD have the wet form. In wet AMD, abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina. They leak and bleed, damaging the macula.
Symptoms of wet AMD can include:
- Distorted vision – Straight lines might look wavy or objects might look different with each eye
- Loss of vision at the center of your sight
What if I have age-related macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration produces central vision loss, but not total blindness. It can affect your ability to:
- Drive safely
- Maintain balance and direction – People with AMD fall more often and have more broken hips than people without AMD
- Recognize faces
- Read, watch TV or do other activities that require sharp vision
- Do everyday activities, such as cooking
There are tools and techniques that can help you live a full life with AMD. Ask your eye doctor about seeing a low vision specialist for vision rehabilitation to make the most of your sight.
Make an appointment
If you have symptoms of macular degeneration, want a second opinion on AMD or have not had an eye exam recently, request an appointment online or call Oregon Eye Specialists at 503-935-5580.