Age-related macular degeneration affects a person’s central vision. It can cause dark spots, distortion of shapes and lines, and blurred vision, and a decline in color vision.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) usually occurs due to aging and is fairly common. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that, in 2019, 12.6% of Americans over 40 years of age had age-related AMD.

In the early stages of AMD, some people may have no symptoms. Later, they can experience worsening color vision, straight lines becoming blurry, and distorted images.

Read on to learn about the warning signs of AMD, what vision with AMD looks like, and more.

A picture of a person's eye.Share on Pinterest
Yasser Chalid/Getty Images

The National Eye Institute (NEI) states that a person may not have symptoms in the early stages of AMD.

However, eye doctors might be able to identify drusen, which are small yellow deposits in the retina. This is one of the most common early signs of AMD. Therefore, it is important to have regular eye exams.

A person at risk for AMD should be particularly cautious and ensure they schedule frequent exams. Some risk factors include:

  • a family history of AMD
  • being Caucasian
  • being 55 years or older
  • smoking

A person with AMD may notice a gradual decline in their vision. When people experience this change, they may be in the intermediate stages of the condition.

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), some symptoms a person may begin to notice include:

  • a gradual decline in being able to see objects clearly
  • shapes becoming distorted
  • straight lines looking wavy or crooked
  • a decline in color vision
  • experiencing a dark or empty area in the center of vision

Due to this central vision loss, a person may have difficulty reading, driving, recognizing familiar faces, and other close-up activities.

There are two different types of the condition: wet and dry. The dry form happens due to the macula becoming thinner with age. Conversely, wet AMD causes faster vision loss and occurs due to the growth of atypical blood vessels, which damage the macula. Both forms have the same symptoms.

Learn more about wet and dry macular degeneration.

A person with AMD will not be able to see straight lines. Instead, they will look wavy or crooked. This is why eye doctors may recommend a person at risk of AMD regularly look at an Amsler Grid so they can monitor vision deterioration.

Additionally, a person may experience the following:

  • Blurred central vision: This can affect close-up activities, including reading.
  • Dark blind spots in their central field of vision: This can occur in one or both eyes. Once the condition worsens, this blind spot may become bigger, darker, or more severe.
  • Dull colors: Colors may appear dark and less vivid.

According to the NEI, vision loss can occur slowly in some individuals and more rapidly in others. A person with AMD may not notice any vision loss for some time.

Research states that early detection and treatment are essential to retaining optimal vision. If a person knows they have AMD, they can attempt to slow down the progression of the condition by:

  • having regular eye exams
  • eating a nutritious diet
  • getting regular exercise
  • stopping smoking, if applicable

While there is no medical treatment for dry AMD, a person with wet AMD can try to slow the progression of vision loss with the following medical treatments:

  • Anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) drugs: A doctor injects anti-VEGF drugs directly into the eye. This slows the development of the condition. Although a 2019 review states that this is a safe and effective treatment for AMD, researchers say that further testing is necessary to show the long-term effects.
  • Photodynamic therapy: This therapy combines injections and laser treatment of the eyes. The National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom says it is a safe treatment but may have side effects, including a burning or stinging sensation and temporary light sensitivity.

Learn more about treatments for AMD.

A person can contact an eye doctor to schedule regular check-ups. They should also disclose any known family history of AMD. Additionally, if someone experiences any symptoms of AMD, they should consult an eye doctor.

A person can also consult a doctor if they experience difficulties reading, cooking, recognizing faces, or other close-up activities.

Age-related macular degeneration is an eye condition that causes damage to the central field of vision. It can also cause damage to color and light perception.

A person in the early stages of macular degeneration may not experience any symptoms, but they may begin to notice symptoms once they are in the intermediate stages. The condition is different in all individuals and varies as to how quickly the central vision loss occurs.

Individuals can contact an eye doctor if they experience any symptoms of macular degeneration.