Age-Related Macular Degeneration: Causes and Symptoms

One of the most common causes of vision loss in adults aged 50 or over is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This disease is caused by the deterioration of the macula, a small area in the retina. The macula is responsible for central vision, which allows you to see fine details and do tasks such as reading small print or threading a needle.

The most common symptom of macular degeneration is that objects and faces appear fuzzy, blurry or distorted. Another symptom of AMD is that there are dark or whited out areas in the center of vision, and straight lines look bent and uneven.

AMD begins with the formation of deposits called drusen under the retina. In some cases, abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina. Although AMD does not cause complete blindness, it can cause significant vision problems and prevent you from doing daily activities such as driving, reading and participating in sports.

AMD can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye exam. Your ophthalmologist will dilate your pupils with eye drops and examine your eyes with an ophthalmoscope, an instrument that allows your doctor to see the back of your eye and retina. Many people are not aware that they have macular degeneration until they have a noticeable vision problem or until it is detected during an eye examination, so it is important to stay current with your eye exams. A one-hour eye exam can help prevent AMD and preserve healthy vision for years to come.

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