Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the most common cause of severe loss of vision in people ages 50 and older. Central vision is affected with this disease.

AMD not only affects the central vision but also the ability to see fine details. In AMD, the macula is damaged. In advanced stages, people lose their ability to drive, to see faces, and to read smaller print. In its early stages, AMD may have no signs or symptoms, so people may not suspect they have it.

Last Updated: February 21, 2024

There are several risk factors that can contribute to developing age-related macular degeneration, including:

  • Being 50 and older
  • Eating a diet high in saturated fat
  • Smoking
  • Hypertension 

The symptoms of AMD depend on the stage. Dry AMD happens in 3 stages: early, intermediate, and late.  AMD is a progressive disease — that means symptoms usually get worse over time.

  • Early dry AMDdoesn’t cause any symptoms.
  • In intermediate dry AMD, some people still have no symptoms. Others may notice mild symptoms, like mild blurriness in their central vision or trouble seeing in low lighting.
  • In late AMD (wet or dry type), many people notice that straight lines start to look wavy or crooked. You may also notice a blurry area near the center of your vision. Over time, this blurry area may get bigger or you may see blank spots. Colors may also seem less bright than before, and you may have more trouble seeing in low lighting.

Straight lines looking wavy is a warning sign for late AMD. If you notice this symptom, see your eye doctor right away.

Diagnostics

  • Visual field test: Amsler grid
  • Dilated eye exam
  • Fluorescein angiography
  • Optical coherence tomography (OCT
  • Optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA)

Treatment

  • Nutritional supplements: The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) found that a combination of vitamins and minerals may slow the progression of dry AMD. AREDS supplements include vitamin Cvitamin E, lutein, zinc, copper, zeaxanthin and beta carotene. (Smokers shouldn’t take beta carotene because it raises the risk of lung cancer.)
  • Anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF): This treatment for wet AMD blocks the production of VEGF, a protein that produces new blood vessels. Your eye healthcare provider injects anti-VEGF into a numbed eye. The drug slows or stops blood vessel development. This treatment sometimes improves vision.

Photodynamic therapy (PDT): During photodynamic therapy, your eye healthcare provider uses a combination of an injectable light-sensitive drug and a laser to destroy extra blood vessels in the eye. Your provider may combine PDT with anti-VEGF.

These steps lower the risk of AMD:

Eat a healthy diet.

 

References:

  1. S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Age-related macular degeneration (AMD). National Eye Institute. Retrieved June 9, 2022, from https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/age-related-macular-degeneration#:~:text=Age%2Drelated%20macular%20degeneration%20(AMD)%20is%20an%20eye%20disease,the%20back%20of%20the%20eye).
  2. American Academy of Ophthalmology. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/amd-macular-degeneration John Hopkins Medicine. Age-related Macular Degeneration. Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) | Johns Hopkins Medicine
Last Updated: February 21, 2024