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Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

Age-related macular degeneration is a condition that affects the middle part of your vision. It doesn't hurt, but it can make it more difficult to read, watch TV, drive or recognise faces. 

What is macular degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a condition that affects the middle part of your vision. It doesn’t cause blindness, but it can make seeing things more difficult. You can develop it in just one eye or in both.

You either have 'dry' or 'wet' AMD.

Dry AMD is more common. There isn't a treatment but visual aids can help to manage symptoms. Wet AMD can progress quickly and affect your vision more severely, but treatments are available – so it's important to get checked out if you notice any symptoms.

What are the symptoms of macular degeneration?

AMD doesn’t hurt, and it doesn’t change how your eyes look. But it can make it more difficult to do things like read, watch TV, drive or recognise faces.

Symptoms of AMD include:

  • a blurry or distorted area in your vision
  • straight lines looking wavy
  • things looking smaller than they should
  • colours not looking as bright as they used to
  • bright lights being uncomfortable
  • adapting from dark to light conditions being difficult
  • hallucinations (seeing things that aren’t there). As AMD develops, you might struggle to see anything at all in the middle part of your vision.

Sometimes AMD is spotted by the optician before you develop symptoms – so it’s important to go for routine eye tests. If you’re over 60, you’re entitled to a free eye test every 2 years.

Am I at risk of macular degeneration?

AMD most commonly starts to affect people in their 50s and 60s.

No one knows exactly what causes AMD, but it’s been linked to smoking, high blood pressure, and being overweight. You may be more likely to develop it if you have a family history of macular degeneration.

If you’re worried about your eyesight, book an appointment with an optician.

What happens if I'm diagnosed with macular degeneration?

If you’re diagnosed with AMD, the specialist you see will talk you through which type of AMD you have and the treatment options you have.

The NHS website has more information about the different types of AMD and possible treatments.

If you’re struggling with daily activities, a low-vision clinic might be able to help. Speak to your specialist about a referral.

It can also help to make some positive changes to your lifestyle, such as stopping smoking, doing some more exercise, and eating a balanced diet.

AMD can mean it’s no longer safe for you to drive. To find out more about declaring medical conditions like AMD to the DVLA, visit our webpage on driving and your health.

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We offer support through our free advice line on 0800 678 1602. Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year. We also have specialist advisers at over 120 local Age UKs.

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Last updated: Apr 08 2024

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