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Age-Related Macular Degeneration

What You Should Know About Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Perhaps you have just learned that you or a loved one has age-related macular degeneration, also known as AMD. If you are like many people, you probably do not know a lot about the condition or understand what is going on inside your eyes.

What is AMD?

AMD is a common eye condition among people age 50 and older. It is a leading cause of vision loss in older adults. It gradually destroys the macula, the part of the eye that provides sharp, central vision needed for seeing objects clearly.

In some people, AMD advances so slowly that vision loss does not occur for a long time. In others, the disorder progresses faster and may lead to a loss of vision in one or both eyes. The vision loss makes it difficult to recognize faces, drive a car, read, print, or do close work, such as sewing or fixing things around the house.

Despite the limited vision, AMD does not cause complete blindness. You will be able to see using your side (peripheral) vision.

Who is at risk?

AMD usually occurs in people who are age 50 and older. As people get older, the risk increases. Other risk factors include the following:

  • Smoking. Research shows that smoking increases the risk of AMD two-fold.
  • Race. Caucasians are much more likely to get AMD than people of African descent.
  • Family history. People with a family history of AMD are at higher risk.
normal vision without diabetic retinopathy

As seen by a person with normal vision

age related macular degeneration

Same scene viewed by a person with AMD