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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Knowing RNIB is there is so reassuring, like a comfort blanket.
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.
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.