Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

What is AMD?

AMD, or age-related macular degeneration, is a leading cause of vision loss for Americans age 50 and older. It affects central vision, where sharpest vision occurs, causing difficulty conducting daily tasks such as driving, reading, and recognizing faces. 

What causes AMD?

AMD affects part of the back of the eye called the macula, the central part of the retina (the “film” lining the inside the eye). When AMD damages the macula, the center part of a person’s vision may become blurred or wavy, and a blind spot may develop. AMD can cause vision loss quickly or slowly, and can make it very hard to do things that require sharp vision, such as reading, sewing, cooking or driving; it can also make it difficult to see in dim light. The good news is that AMD almost never causes total blindness, since it usually does not hurt side (peripheral) vision.

What are the Types of AMD? 

Dry and wet. The most common form of AMD is “dry” AMD. This is caused by the appearance of small yellow deposits called drusen, which form under the retina. These are accumulated waste products of the retina, which can grow in size and stop the flow of nutrients to the retina. This will cause the retinal cells in the macula that process light to die, causing vision to become blurred. This form of the disease usually worsens slowly. “Wet” AMD generally causes more rapid and more serious vision loss. In this form of the disease, tiny new blood vessels grow under and into the retina. These blood vessels are fragile and often break and leak, causing a loss of vision.  

Fact Sheets and Resources for Women's Eye and Vision Health

What increases risk for AMD?

  • Family history of AMD
  • Aging - those over 60 years old
  • Race - Caucasians have a higher rate of AMD
  • Sex - females have a higher rate of AMD may be because they live longer
  • Light colored eyes
  • Smoking
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • High sun exposure
  • Poor diet - with low intake of anti-oxidants

What are the Symptoms of AMD? 

There may be no symptoms until the disease progresses or affects both eyes. Vision changes due to AMD are:
  • Difficulty seeing in the center of your vision, which is needed for reading, sewing, cooking, looking at faces, and driving
  • Trouble seeing in dim light
  • Straight lines start to appear wavy, blurry or missing
  • ·Fading and/or changes in the appearance of colors
If you experience any of these symptoms, see an eye doctor as soon as possible. 

How is AMD diagnosed?

The key to slowing or preventing vision loss is regular eye exams. People age 60 or older should get a complete eye exam and follow-up with eye exams every one or two years or as indicated by the eye doctor. It is important to maintain a routine schedule of eye exams even if there are no noticeable vision problems. Read More

How Does AMD Damage My Eyes? 

AMD effects part of the back of the eye called the macula, the central part of the retina. When AMD damages the macula, the center part of you vision may become blurred or wavy, or you may develop a blind spot. Read More

How is AMD Treated? 

Currently, the only treatment for dry AMD, which in many people show no symptoms or loss of vision, is dietary vitamin and other supplements.

The eye doctor may recommend a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year. The exam will help determine if the condition is worsening.

The treatment of wet AMD has changed rapidly over the past few years, and new research and treatments continue to be developed and tested. Read More

Living with Low Vision

If you or someone you know has lost some sight to AMD, low vision aids can help you stay independent. Special training, called vision rehabilitation, can provide skills for living with low vision. A low vision specialist will help determine the right combination of aids for your needs. Ask your eye doctor about the possibility of seeing a low vision specialist.

Low vision aids include:

  • Magnifying glasses, screens and stands
  • Telescopic lenses
  • High-intensity reading lamps
  • Large-print newspapers, magazines and books
  • Close-circuit TVs that magnify a printed page on screen
  • Computers and tablets

Living Well With Low Vision

Living Well with Low Vision is an online resource to educate those with loss of vision on how maintain their independence and quality of life. Learn more at

Check for Signs of AMD with the Amsler Grid 

The purpose of this section is to check adults for Macular Degeneration using an Amsler Grid pattern. Read More

GuideMe for Macular Degeneration

GuideMe is a free smart phone, tablet, and web-ready resource for those who have been recently diagnosed with AMD, their family members and caregivers. Click here to create and download your free, customized guide

Nutrition Supplements and Vision

Multiple research studies conducted by the National Eye Institute suggest that a combination of certain vitamin supplements  may help slow the progression of AMD in people who were at high risk of developing advanced AMD. Read More

Download the AMD fact sheet