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Conditions InDepth: Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is a chronic and usually progressive disorder that affects the central part of the retina (the macula) and causes reduced ability to see. Macular degeneration causes a gradual loss of sharp, central vision.

Macular Degeneration
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Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in older adults in the United States. The frequency of this disorder increases with age. The majority of affected people are aged 75-80 years old.

Adult macular degeneration (AMD), which is the most common form of macular degeneration, occurs in two main forms:

Ninety percent of people with AMD have this type. An area of the retina is affected, which leads to slow breakdown of cells in the macula and a gradual loss of central vision. Dry AMD sometimes occurs in one eye first, but usually affects both eyes eventually. Stages of dry macular degeneration can be classified as early, intermediate, and late.

Although only 10% of all people with AMD have this type, it accounts for 90% of all blindness from the disease. As late AMD progresses, new blood vessels may begin to grow. These new blood vessels often leak blood and fluid under the macula. This causes rapid damage to the macula that can lead to significant loss of central vision in a short time.

What are the symptoms of macular degeneration?How is macular degeneration diagnosed?What are the risk factors for macular degeneration?What are the treatments for macular degeneration?Are there screening tests for macular degeneration?How can I reduce my risk of macular degeneration?What's it like to live with macular degeneration?What questions should I ask my doctor?Where can I get more information about macular degeneration?

Revision Information

  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated May 7, 2016. Accessed June 13, 2016.

  • Age-related macular degeneration. National Eye Institute (NEI) website. Available at: https://nei.nih.gov/health/maculardegen. Updated September 2015. Accessed June 13, 2016.

  • An overview of macular degeneration. Macular Degeneration Foundation website. Available at: http://www.eyesight.org/Macular%5FDegeneration/macular%5Fdegeneration.html. Accessed June 13, 2016.

  • What is macular degeneration? American Macular Degeneration Foundation website. Available at: https://www.macular.org/what-macular-degeneration. Accessed June 13, 2016.