About Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Key Points

  • Vision loss doesn't have to be a normal part of aging.
  • You can take steps to protect your vision.
  • Learn about age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and how you can reduce your risk.
Older smiling woman with glasses

Meet Mary

Mary is 70 years old. About 5 years ago, Mary found she had a hard time reading the newspaper in low light. Sometimes the lines seemed a little distorted.

Then, as she was reading a book, she noticed the middle of the page was blurry. She knew this was a bad sign and went to her doctor, who referred Mary to an eye doctor.

The eye doctor diagnosed Mary with the dry form of AMD. Mary's father had lost vision in one eye, but she hadn't thought about this family history before.

Mary can no longer drive and has some problems with day-to-day activities because of AMD. But she has found new and creative ways to keep doing some of the activities she most enjoys. She uses a magnifying glass with a light for reading and software on her computer that makes screen text bigger.

Mary learned there is no single treatment for the dry form of AMD. Her eye doctor recommended she take antioxidant vitamins and zinc, which can slow the progress of the disease.


AMD is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness for Americans aged 65 years and older. As Mary's story shows, AMD destroys the sharp, central vision needed to see clearly. Here are some facts about AMD:

  • AMD comes in both wet and dry forms.
  • The wet type is the more advanced and damaging form.
  • Most dry forms of AMD don't progress to the wet form.
  • The wet form can lead to severe and permanent loss of central vision.
  • If AMD progresses to the wet stage, therapies such as injections and laser treatments can help.

Risk factors

  • People with a family history of AMD are at greater risk of AMD.1
  • AMD affects White people more often than other races and ethnicities, such as African American and Hispanic or Latino people.2
  • Smoking, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure are risk factors for AMD.34

It's always a good time to take steps to reduce the risk of eye problems such as AMD. Talk to your friends and family about the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Encourage them to get regular eye exams to help prevent permanent vision loss. Take a tip from Mary and don't wait!

What you can do

Tell your eye doctor about any family history of eye problems and get regular eye exams. Both can help you find out if you have AMD early, when treatment can be most effective.

Quitting smoking, or never starting, is an important way to prevent AMD.

Having a healthy lifestyle and lowering cholesterol can help lower your risk for AMD and also help prevent the dry form of the disease from progressing to the wet form, which can cause permanent vision loss.

The Age-Related Disease Studies found that getting certain vitamins and minerals every day may slow the progression of AMD. Combining these vitamins can reduce the risk of late AMD by 25%:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Beta-carotene
  • Zinc
  • Copper

Green, leafy vegetables have large amounts of many of these vitamins.

If AMD progresses to later stages, your eye doctor may use treatments such as injections and laser treatment.

If you do have vision loss, vision rehabilitation services and devices can help. Speak to your eye doctor about new technologies such as magnifiers and telescopic glasses, and ask about resources in your area for low vision.

  1. Cheng Q (2014). Age-related Macular Degeneration and Vascular and Renal Comorbidities in Adults Aged 40 Years or Older: NHANES 2005-2008.
  2. Lim LS, Mitchell P, Seddon JM, Holz FG, Wong TY. (2012). Age-related macular degeneration. The Lancet, 379(9827), 1728-1738.
  3. Wu J, Uchino M, Sastry SM, Schaumberg DA. (2014). Age-related macular degeneration and the incidence of cardiovascular disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. PLOS ONE, 9(3), e89600.
  4. Fisher DE, Klein B E, Wong TY, et al. (2016). Incidence of Age-Related Macular Degeneration in a Multi-Ethnic United States Population: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Ophthalmology.