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Age Related Macular Degeneration

Macular Degeneration
About AMD

If you have been diagnosed with Age-related Macular Degeneration (commonly referred to as “macular degeneration or AMD”), you are not alone.

AMD is the leading cause of blindness in the United States for people over 65.1,2

As baby boomers reach age 65 and beyond, millions of people are at risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD).2

It is Estimated 18 Million Will Have Macular Degeneration by 2050.9

In a study funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers report that as many as 9.1 million people had age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in 2010, but that 17.8 million people will have the potentially blinding eye disease by 2050.9

What is AMD?

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a progressive eye condition that damages the macula, the part of the retina responsible for central vision.

When the macula is damaged changes in your central vision may occur including:

  • Blurriness
  • Distortion of images
  • Potential loss of central vision.

In some cases, AMD advances so slowly that people notice little change in their vision. In others, the disease progresses faster and may lead to a loss of vision in both eyes.

There are two forms of AMD, dry and wet. About 90% of people diagnosed with AMD have dry AMD. Early AMD always starts out as dry, but in about 10% of cases it can develop into wet AMD.

People with AMD may not experience changes in their central vision until the disease progresses to the advanced stages. So it’s important for every one age 65 or older to have an annual eye exam.


Dry AMD occurs when the light-sensitive cells in the macula slowly break down, gradually blurring central vision in the affected eye. As dry AMD gets worse, you may see a blurred spot in the center of your vision. Over time, as less of the macula functions, central vision is gradually lost in the affected eye.

The most common symptom of dry AMD is slightly blurred vision. You may have difficulty recognizing faces. You may need more light for reading and other tasks. Dry AMD generally affects both eyes, but vision can be lost in one eye while the other eye seems unaffected.

One of the most common early signs of dry AMD is drusen.

Drusen alone do not usually cause vision loss. In fact, scientists are unclear about the connection between drusen and AMD. They do know that an increase in the size or number of drusen raises a person's risk of developing either advanced dry AMD or wet AMD. Advanced AMD changes can cause serious vision loss.

AMD has three stages, all of which may occur in one or both eyes:
  1. Early AMD: People with early AMD have either several small drusen or a few medium-sized drusen. At this stage, there are no symptoms and no vision loss.

  2. Intermediate AMD: People with intermediate AMD have either many medium-sized drusen or one or more large drusen. Some people see a blurred spot in the center of their vision. More light may be needed for reading and other tasks.

  3. Advanced Dry AMD: In addition to drusen, people with advanced dry AMD have a breakdown of light-sensitive cells and supporting tissue in the central retinal area. This breakdown can cause a blurred spot in the center of your vision. Over time, the blurred spot may get bigger and darker, taking more of your central vision. You may have difficulty reading or recognizing faces until they are very close to you.


With wet AMD, loss of central vision can occur quickly. Your doctor can recommend interventions to help limit your vision loss to wet AMD.


AMD affects central vision, which is needed for seeing objects clearly and for common daily tasks such as reading and driving.

Common Symptoms Dry AMD:3
  • Blurred Vision: As fewer cells in the macula are able to function, you may see details less clearly in your central vision, such as faces or words in a book. This blurred vision will often go away in brighter light.

  • Non-Seeing Areas in Central Vision: If the loss of these light-sensing cells becomes great, you may notice small – but growing – non-seeing areas or scotomas in the center of your vision.

Common Symptoms of Wet AMD:3
  • Straight Lines Appear Crooked: When fluid from leaking blood vessels gathers and lifts the macula, it can distort your vision and make straight lines – like door frames – appear bent or crooked.

  • Non-Seeing Areas in Central Vision: If the loss of these light-sensing cells becomes great, you may notice small – but growing – non-seeing areas or scotomas in the center of your vision.

If you have AMD, using an Amsler Grid is a great way to check your vision regularly and monitor any changes.

If you do notice any new changes in your vision, contact your eye care professional immediately.

Risk Factors

The exact cause of AMD is not known, however some people are known to be at greater risk.

The greatest risk factor for AMD is age. At age 50, you have just a 2% risk, but that risk increases to 30% by age 75.4

Other risk factors you cannot control for AMD include:4
  • Family History: The risk of AMD is three times higher if an immediate family member has the condition.

  • Skin/eye color: People with light colored skin and eyes are more likely to develop AMD.

  • Gender: Women get AMD more often than men.

Risk factors you can control:
  • Smoking: Smokers are three to four times more likely to develop AMD compared to nonsmokers.4

  • Nutrition: A diet low in certain antioxidants vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins A, C, E, lutein and zinc may be a risk factor. These nutrients can be found in some fruits, nuts, and dark leafy greens.10

  • Obesity: Overweight patients with AMD are more than twice as likely to develop advanced forms of the disease compared with people of normal body weight.5

  • High Blood Pressure and High Cholesterol: Have been linked to the development of advanced AMD.6,7

  • Excessive Exposure to Sunlight: Research has shown that excessive ultraviolet light may increase the risk for developing AMD.8

Reducing Your Risks for AMD

To learn about steps you can take to help reduce your risk of progression and maintain your macular health.

Lutein May Decrease Your Risk of Macular Degeneration

by George Torrey, Ph.D.

Lutein is the dominant component in the peripheral retina.

Dr. Johanna M. Seddon and associates at Harvard University found that 6 mg per day of lutein lead to a 43% lower risk for macular degeneration.(1.) John T. Landrum and Richard A. Bone of Florida International University conducted a two-person study in 1995 to find out if lutein supplements would increase macular pigment. After 140 days, macular pigment increased about 20% in one man, 40 percent in the other. Although this study is minuscule, it is the first evidence that taking lutein supplements may restore lost macular pigment.

Lutein supplements are available in nanosized liposomal transdermal patch. They should be aken at mealtime because lutein is absorbed better when ingested with a small amount of fat such as olive oil. The recommended dosage is 6 mg to 30 mg daily. Click on the link below to view dietary charts showing those foods that contain high amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin. Zeaxanthin is the dominant carotenoid in the central macula.