Patients and Public

Eye Diseases

Macular Degeneration

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of severe vision loss in people over age 60. It occurs when the small central portion of the retina, known as the macula, deteriorates. The retina is the light-sensing nerve tissue at the back of the eye. Because the disease develops as a person ages, it is often referred to as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Although macular degeneration is almost never a totally blinding condition, it can be a source of significant visual disability.

Who is most likely to get AMD?

  • Age more common in older adults, the leading cause of severe vision loss in adults over age 60
  • Hereditary, meaning it can be passed on from parents to children. If someone in your family has or had the condition you may be at higher risk for developing macular degeneration
  • Smoking
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • being light skinned, female, and having a light eye colour
  • Straight lines start to appear distorted, or the centre of vision becomes distorted
  • Dark, blurry areas or white out appears in the centre of vision
  • Diminished or changed colour perception
  • If you experience any of these symptoms, you need to see an SAOA Optometrist as soon as possible.

What are the symptoms of AMD?

Early stages of age-related macular degeneration may not have symptoms and may be unrecognized until it progresses or affects both eyes.
Symptoms of macular degeneration include:

How do you know if you have AMD?

Regular comprehensive eye examination can never be over emphasised. During an eye examination a series of tests will be performed to check how well you can see Your SAOA Optometrist is trained to assess and examine the condition of your eyes and diagnose if you have AMD by comprehensively looking at the back of your eye exam Your SAOA Optometrist may also give you an Amsler grid. This is a self-test or a home test that can help monitor and track progression if any. Click here for an Amsler grid.

How is AMD treated?

AMD cannot be cured; however it can be treated to keep it from getting worse. Early intervention is important to protect your vision. Eating better and take more vitamins might be beneficial in the early stage of AMD. Talk to your SAOA Optometrist about the best vitamins for you.

What can you do to protect your vision?

The risk of losing vision from AMD can be lowered by doing the following:
  • Have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year if you are age 60 or older.
  • Exercise regularly and control your weight.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Eat more leafy green vegetables and fish.
  • Keep your blood pressure normal.
  • Keep your cholesterol levels low.