Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye condition that affects a tiny part of the retina at the back of your eye, which is called the macula. AMD causes problems with your central vision, but does not lead to total loss of sight and is not painful.
Age-related macular degeneration affects the vision you use when you're looking directly at something, for example when you're reading, looking at photos or watching television. AMD may make this central vision distorted or blurry and, over a period of time, it may cause a blank patch in the centre of your vision.
At the moment, the exact cause for AMD is not known. Some things are thought to increase chances of developing AMD:
Although you cannot change your age or genes, current thinking is that protecting your eyes from the sun, eating a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, and stopping smoking may all help to keep your eyes as healthy as possible.
Unfortunately, because the exact cause of AMD is not known you may develop this condition even if you don't have any of these risk factors.
Symptoms vary from person to person, but usually the first problems people notice are with their ability to see detail. You may have problems reading small print, even if you wear your usual reading glasses, or you may find that there is a slight smudge in your sight or that your vision has a small blurred area in the centre. Straight lines may look distorted or wavy or as if there's a little bump in them.
You may also find you become sensitive to bright light or that you see shapes and lights that aren't actually there. Sometimes people may only notice these changes in one eye.
You should have your eyes tested by an optometrist (optician) if:
The optometrist will be able to measure any changes in your vision and examine the back of your eye. If they detect any changes to your macula or any cause for concern they will arrange an appointment with the ophthalmologist for further tests
Source: Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)