Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

Our guide to living with AMD includes product information

Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye condition which affects the central part of your retina which is called the macula. It causes changes to your central vision which can make some everyday tasks difficult. 

Being told you have AMD can be worrying but we hope the information here will offer you some help and support. We’ve put together a clear guide to the condition, as well as practical and emotional support to help you both understand and live confidently with AMD.

Understanding AMD

AMD causes changes to the macula, which leads to problems with your central vision, it doesn’t cause pain, and doesn’t lead to a total loss of sight.

AMD affects the vision you use when you’re looking directly at something, for example when you’re reading, looking at photos or watching television.

Download our 'Understanding AMD' guide

Our Understanding AMD guide is accredited by the the Royal College of Ophthalmologists.

It's designed to give you a detailed understanding of your eye condition and helpful advice on next steps.

Staying independent with AMD

AMD can make some everyday things more difficult. Shirley finds that lighting, magnification aids and eyeshields are some of the products that help her maximise her vision.

Causes of AMD

The macula contains a few million specialised photoreceptor cells called cone cells.

When someone develops AMD, the cone cells in the macular area become damaged and stop working as well as they should.

Through having that help from RNIB, I've got my confidence back. I lost it for such a long time, so it was just lovely to get back out in to normal life again and not be stuck indoors

Lieghanne Gallagher, RNIB customer


Symptoms of AMD

You should have your eyes tested as soon as you can by an optometrist (optician) if you start to experience any of these symptoms:
  • You notice any difficulty reading small print even with your reading glasses
  • Straight lines start to look wavy or distorted
  • Your vision is not as clear as it used to be.
If you notice a sudden change in your vision, you should have your eyes examined by an eye health professional as soon as you can
If your sight changes very quickly then you can attend the Accident and Emergency department at your nearest hospital.
If your optometrist thinks you have AMD they will refer you to an ophthalmologist (hospital eye doctor) for further tests and examinations.



Types of AMD


Dry AMD is the most common type of AMD. It develops very slowly and causes a gradual change in your central vision. At its worst Dry AMD causes a blank patch in the centre of your vision.



Wet AMD can develop very quickly, causing serious changes to your central vision in a short period of time, over days or weeks.

You develop wet AMD when the cells of the macula stop working correctly and the body starts growing new blood vessels to fix the problem.

These new blood vessels cause swelling and bleeding underneath the macula which can lead to scarring. The new blood vessels and the scarring damage your central vision and may lead to a blank patch in the centre of your sight. 


Both wet and dry AMD only affect your central vision and will not affect the vision around the edge of your sight (Peripheral vision). So neither type will cause you to lose all of your sight.

Treatments for AMD

Treatment for Dry AMD

Unfortunately there is currently no way to treat dry AMD. There is some evidence that vitamins can help with the condition. This is covered in more detail in our Understanding AMD download guide.

Treatment for Wet AMD

The treatment available on the NHS for wet AMD is with a group of medications called anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) drugs.

The medicine is injected in to the vitreous, the gel-like substance inside your eye.

Anti VEGF drugs work by stopping new blood vessels from growing, preventing further damage to your sight.


Recently diagnosed with AMD

Trying to adjust after a diagnosis of AMD can seem overwhelming at first and it might involve some changes to your life.

We’re here to support you every step of the way, and to answer any questions you may have.

Talk to our eye health team

Registering your sight loss

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"Knowing RNIB is there is so reassuring, like a comfort blanket." - Peter Seaman

You can get support with your eye condition with RNIB

Get in touch

If you've got any questions speak to us by emailing the eye health team or calling 0303 123 9999

Living confidently with AMD

Living with AMD shouldn’t mean an end to doing most of the things you like to do.

We'll help you maximise your vision and make the most of the sight that you have.

If you haven’t already now would be a good time to join RNIB Connect, our connected community of everyone affected by sight loss.

Make use of our free Talking Books service

Browse products in the RNIB shop

Listen to RNIB Connect Radio

Join the RNIB Connect community 


More information

Products from our shop that could help

Helpful organisations

The Macular Society is a UK charity for anyone affected by macular conditions. 

NHS direct is the website for the NHS Direct health advice services, with information and advice about glaucoma.


How to get involved

Become part of our growing community of people affected by sight loss and you will receive more great stories like these