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Macular degeneration - age-related

  • Alternative Names

    Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD); AMD; senile macular degeneration (SMD) is an older name that is no longer in common use.


    At first you may not have symptoms. As the disease progresses, your central vision may be affected.

    The most common symptom in dry AMD is blurred vision. Often objects in the central vision look distorted and dim, and colors look faded. You may have trouble reading print or seeing other details, but you can generally see well enough to walk and perform most routine activities.

    As the disease becomes worse, you may need more light to read or perform everyday tasks. Straight lines appear distorted and wavy. A blurred or dark spot in the center of vision gradually gets larger and darker.

    In the later stages, you may not be able to recognize faces until they are close.

    AMD typically does not affect side (peripheral) vision. This is very important, because it means complete vision loss never occurs from this disease.

    Central vision loss can occur very quickly. If this occurs, you will need urgent evaluation by an ophthalmologist with experience in retinal disease.

    Signs and tests

    You will be given drops to enlarge (dilate) your pupils. The eye care provider will then use special lenses to view your retina, blood vessels, and optic nerve.

    The doctor will look for specific changes in the macula and blood vessels. One of the earliest findings in dry AMD is drusen, the yellow deposits that form in the macula.

    You may be asked to cover one eye and look at a pattern of lines called an Amsler grid. If the straight lines appear wavy, it may be a sign of AMD.

    Other tests for macular degeneration may include:

    • Fluorescein angiogram
    • Fundus photography
    • Optical coherence tomography (OCT)