Focus on Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)


Please note that this page is for information only, it is not a replacement for medical advice.
If you have any questions regarding Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), or any other eye condition, please consult a medical professional. 

What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)?

Macular degeneration - also known as age-related macular degeneration or AMD - is a common eye disease that affects the macula. The macula is the central part of the retina, needed for sharp, detailed vision. AMD is a leading cause of vision loss among people aged 50 and older.

Age-related macular degeneration is the most common type of macular disease. Macular disease can affect people of any age, and it affects nearly 1.5 million people in the UK, and 19.8 million Americans over the age of 40.   

Symptoms of macular degeneration include blurry or distorted vision, a dark or empty area in the centre of the visual field, and difficulty seeing fine details. While there is no cure for macular degeneration, treatments such as injections, laser therapy, and dietary supplements can help slow its progression and improve vision.

There are two types of macular degeneration

Dry Macular Degeneration

Dry macular degeneration is the more common type of macular degeneration. It is characterised by the gradual breakdown of the light-sensitive cells in the macula (the central part of the retina).

Wet Macular Degeneration

Wet macular degeneration is less common but is usually more serious. It is caused by the growth of abnormal blood vessels under the retina. These can leak and cause scarring.



AMD is the biggest cause of sight loss in the UK,
affecting more than 700,000 people.

The Macular Society

Symptoms of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

The symptoms of macular degeneration can vary depending on the type of macular degeneration and the stage of the disease.

The common symptoms of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) are:

Blurred vision

Straight lines may appear wavy, and it may become difficult to read small print.

Dark or empty areas

A blind spot may appear in the central visual field or in the periphery.

Decreased contrast sensitivity

Colours may appear less vibrant and objects may lose their brightness.

Difficulty adapting to low light levels

It may become harder to adjust to low-light conditions.

Loss of central vision

This can make it difficult to perform everyday activities, such as reading, driving and recognising faces.

In the early stages, macular degeneration may not cause any noticeable symptoms. However, as the disease progresses, symptoms can become more pronounced and interfere with daily activities.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to see an optometrist or ophthalmologist for an evaluation.


What Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) might look like

Image of Durdle Door - a rock arch in the sea on the Dorset coast.  Part of the image is obscured by a large black blob shape, with blurred outlines. This represents how a person with AMD experiences seeing this scene      Family playing a Jenga board game. the person in the centre has their face blocked by a large black blob shape, to shows how a person with AMD might visualise the scene.

Please note this is a simulation of macular degeneration, based on the anecdotal experiences of people who have the condition. This image is not the experience of everyone with macular disease and is for illustration purposes only.

Diagnosis of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

A comprehensive eye exam is the most common way to diagnose macular degeneration. During the exam, an eye doctor will evaluate your vision, and check the health of your eyes. The following tests may be done:

Visual acuity test

This test measures how well you can see at a distance.

Dilated eye exam

Eye drops are used to dilate your pupils, allowing the eye doctor to examine the back of your eye and check for signs of macular degeneration.

Amsler grid

This is a grid of horizontal and vertical lines used to test for distortion or blank spots in your vision.

Optical coherence tomography (OCT)

This test uses light waves to create detailed images of the retina, which can help the eye doctor detect signs of macular degeneration.

Fluorescein angiography

A special dye is injected into your arm, and a series of photographs are taken as the dye flows through the blood vessels in your eye. This test can help detect abnormal blood vessels associated with wet macular degeneration.

If macular degeneration is diagnosed, the eye doctor may recommend further tests, such as genetic testing or other medical imaging studies, to determine the extent of the disease and the best treatment options.

Studies show that the prevalence of AMD increases with age
from 2% among people aged 40-44, to 46% among people aged over 85.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vision and Eye Health Surveillance System Report



There is currently no cure for macular degeneration, but there are several treatments that can slow the progression of the disease and preserve vision. The type of treatment recommended will depend on the type and severity of the macular degeneration.

Dry macular degeneration

There is currently no treatment for dry macular degeneration, but dietary supplements containing antioxidants and zinc may help slow its progression.

Wet macular degeneration

There are several treatments available for wet macular degeneration, including:

Anti-VEGF injections

These injections are used to block the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the eye.

Photodynamic therapy

A special medication is injected into a vein in your arm, which is then activated by shining a light on the eye, causing the abnormal blood vessels to close.

Laser therapy

A high-energy laser is used to destroy abnormal blood vessels in the eye.

It is important to note that while these treatments can be effective in slowing the progression of macular degeneration, they may not restore vision that has already been lost.

In addition to medical treatment, people with age-related macular degeneration can also benefit from low-vision aids, such as magnifiers, specialised glasses, and reading aids, to help them perform daily activities. Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly may also help slow the progression of the disease.

Regular eye exams are crucial for monitoring the disease and adjusting treatment as needed.

Living with Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Living with age-related macular degeneration can be challenging, but there are many strategies and tools that can help maintain independence and quality of life. Here are some tips for living with macular degeneration:

Work with your eye doctor

Your ophthalmologist or optometrist can help you develop a treatment plan, provide low-vision aids, and monitor the progression of the disease.

Use low-vision aids

Magnifiers, special lighting, and other low-vision aids can make it easier to read, write, and perform daily activities.

Adapt your home

Make your home safer and more accessible by adding contrasting colours, brighter or more lights, and other adaptations to improve navigation and prevent falls.

Stay active

Regular exercise can help maintain overall health and reduce the risk of other health problems that can worsen macular degeneration.

Eat a healthy diet

Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables can help support eye health.

Connect with others

Joining a support group or seeking social support from family and friends can help cope with the emotional and practical challenges of living with macular degeneration.

Quit smoking

Smoking can increase the risk of macular degeneration and worsen the condition if you already have it, so quitting smoking can help slow its progression.

Overall, it is important to stay positive, stay informed about the condition, and seek support and help as needed. With the right tools and strategies, it is possible to live a full and independent life with macular degeneration.

Use assistive technology

There's lots of technology available to help you with everyday tasks, staying in touch with loved ones and accessing entertainment. Whatever your experience is with computers, Dolphin assistive technology can help. Assistive tech from Dolphin includes easy-to-use computer programmes developed specifically for older, non-techy people with sight loss,  screen magnifiers, screen readers and accessible book readers.

Where to find more information about Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Macular Society Logo

Macular Society

A UK charity that aims to beatthe fear and isolation of macular disease with research, advice and support.

Visit Macular Society >

NHS Logo

NHS Website

Find out more about Macular Disease and how to get treatment in the UK, visit the the NHS Health website. 

NHS About AMD >

AMDF logo


The American Macular Degeneration Foundation is a non-profit organization for the prevention, treatment and cure of AMD.

Visit AMDF website >

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How Dolphin assistive technology can help you live with Age-Related Macular Degeneration

How Dolphin makes a difference

Dolphin Computer Access Logo Hi res-1

If you are blind or partially sighted, Dolphin assistive technology helps you maintain your independence. We have developed specialist software, specifically for people experiencing sight loss.

For over 35 years, we have made a difference to the lives of millions of people who are blind or partially sighted. Dolphin software includes screen magnification and screen reading technology, book reading apps and easy to use computer programs. These work to help people with sight loss to work or study, to complete tasks independently at home, to access the internet and read all the information on a computer screen.

Assistive Tech for Home

About GuideConnect

GuideConnect is easy-to-use computer technology, designed for people with visual impairments, and those experiencing sight loss for the first time. GuideConnect is suitable for beginners or experienced computer users and can be used through your own TV, on a tablet or computer. It has colourful icons, talking menus and large text to guide you through

GuideConnect helps people who are losing their sight stay independent for longer. It connects you to friends and family, enables you to do everyday tasks like reading your post and provides access to a range of entertainment such as audiobooks, games and radio. 

GuideConnect Info

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