Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a painless eye condition that causes you to lose central vision, usually in both eyes.

Central vision is what you see when you focus straight ahead. In AMD, this vision becomes increasingly blurred, which means:

  • reading becomes difficult
  • colours appear less vibrant
  • people's faces are difficult to recognise

This sight loss usually happens gradually over time, although it can sometimes be rapid.

AMD doesn't affect your peripheral vision (side vision), which means it will not cause complete Visual impairment .

If your vision suddenly gets worse, images are distorted or you notice blind spots in your field of vision, seek medical advice immediately and book an emergency appointment with an optometrist.

If AMD is suspected,you'll be referred to an ophthalmologist (eye specialist) for tests and any necessary treatment.

There are two main types dry AMD and wet AMD.


Dry AMD develops when the cells of the macula become damagedby a build-up ofdeposits called drusen. It's the most common and least serious type of AMD, accounting for around 9 out of 10 cases.

Vision loss isgradual, occurring over many years. However,an estimated1 in 10 people with dry AMD go on to develop wet AMD.


Wet AMD sometimes called neovascular AMD develops when abnormal blood vessels form underneath the macula and damageits cells.

Wet AMD is more serious than dry AMD. Without treatment, vision can deteriorate within days.

Who's affected?

AMD currently affects more than 600,000 people in the UK andis the leading cause of vision loss . By 2020, it's predicted almost 700,000 people will have late-stage AMD in the UK.

For reasons that are unclear, AMD tends to be more common in women than men. It's also more common in white and Chinese people.

The condition is most common in people over the age of50. It's estimated 1 in every 10 people over 65 have somedegree of AMD.

Treating macular degeneration

There's currently no cure for either type of AMD. With dry AMD, treatment aims to help a person make the most of their remaining vision for example, magnifying lenses can be used to make reading easier.

There's some evidence to suggest a diet rich in leafy greenvegetables may slow the progression of dry AMD.

Wet AMD can be treated with anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) medication. This aims to stop your vision getting worse by preventing further blood vessels developing.

In some cases, laser surgery can also be used to destroy abnormal blood vessels.

The early diagnosis and treatment of wet AMD is essentialfor reducing the risk of severe visionloss.

Your risk of developing AMD is closely linked to your age and whether you have a family history of the condition.

However, you may be able toreduce your risk ofdeveloping AMD, or help prevent itgetting worse, by:

  • stopping smoking if you smoke
  • eating a healthy, balanced diet that includes plenty of fruit and vegetables
  • moderating your consumption of alcohol read more about alcohol units and recommendations
  • trying to achieve or maintain a healthy weight
  • wearing UV-absorbing glasses when outside for long periods
The macula is a small spot at the centre of the retina. It is the part of your eye where incoming rays of light are focused.
The retina is the nerve tissue lining the back of the eye. It senses light and colour and sends it to the brain as electrical impulses.
Visual impairment
The term visual impairment refers to anyone who is blind or partially sighted, rather than those who are short-sighted (myopia), or long-sighted (hyperopia).
Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 28 Nov 2016