Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss for people over 50

older woman eye examEye health and good vision are great contributors to quality of life. Nevertheless, having good eyesight is often taken for granted – until it is lost. As you get older, macular degeneration is a common cause of eye issues.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disorder that’s caused by damage to the macula, a part of the retina. This damage causes a loss of central vision, or what you see in your direct line of sight, regardless of distance. Your central vision becomes blurred or dark while your peripheral vision remains normal. Because AMD is the leading cause of vision loss for people 50 years and older, it is important to know the types, symptoms and risk factors to get the intervention you may need.

Types of AMD

Dry AMD is the more common type of this condition. It occurs when the macula thins over time and clumps of protein grow on the retina. Dry AMD causes slower loss of vision, but can develop into wet AMD if left untreated.

Wet AMD is less common but much more severe because symptoms appear suddenly and worsen quickly. It is caused by blood vessels leaking fluid or blood into the macula.

Common symptoms of AMD include:

  • Blurriness in center of vision
  • Difficulty seeing in low lighting
  • Distortion of straight lines
  • A defined blurry or blind spot in vision

If you experience any of these symptoms, talk to an eye doctor.

Risk Factors

AMD is most common for people who:

  • Are 55 years or older
  • Have family history of AMD
  • Smoke
  • Eat a diet high in saturated fat
  • Have high blood pressure

Eye Health

While age is the biggest contributor to developing AMD, you can take steps to promote eye health and slow down vision loss, even if you have intermediate AMD. Recommendations include:

  • Taking AREDS 2 supplements*
  • Eating dark leafy greens, yellow fruits and vegetables, fish**
  • Wearing UV protective glasses***
  • Attending to your cardiovascular health***

*National Eye Institute

**American Academy of Ophthalmology

***American Optometric Association