Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

If haziness or blank spots appear in your central vision, or if you find that straight lines look a little wavy, see your eye doctor—it could be a sign of age-related macular degeneration, an eye condition that could lead to severe vision loss.

What is age-related macular degeneration (AMD)?

It is a chronic irreversible medical condition that results in loss of vision in the centre of the visual fi eld (the macula) because of damage to the retina.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the leading causes of blindness in those over 50 years old. Smokers have a two to four times higher risk of developing AMD compared to non-smokers.*

If you are over 50 and smoke, have your eyes checked.
*Based on a 2009 study by the Singapore Eye Research Institute

The condition can make it diffi cult to read or recognise faces, although enough peripheral vision remains to allow you to continue with other daily activities. However, activities like driving and reading will be affected.

Vision impaired by AMD - SNEC

Causes of Age-related macular degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration occurs in ‘dry’ and ‘wet’ forms. 90% of AMD patients suff er from the dry form. Dry AMD results in slow progressive loss of central vision. The condition develops as the lightsensitive cells in the macula slowly break down with age.

In wet AMD, abnormal blood vessel growth in the eye leads to the leaking of blood and proteins into the macula, leading to subsequent vision loss. The wet form commonly results in advance visual loss within a short period of time.

Symptoms of Age-related macular degeneration

One or some of these symptoms may be experienced :

  • Blurring of central vision (may be gradual or rapid in onset)
  • Shadows or missing areas of vision
  • Distorted vision e.g. a grid of straight lines appears wavy and parts of the grid appear blank
  • Problems discerning colours, specifically dark colours from other dark colours and light colours from other light colours
  • Slow recovery of visual function after exposure to bright light
  • Loss of contrast sensitivity (ability to tell diff erent levels of brightness apart)

Prevention of Age-related macular degeneration

There are no proven preventive medications for AMD. The best way to prevent vision loss is to get a prompt eye examination and diagnosis by your eye doctor. Early diagnosis improves the success of treatment.

You can monitor your vision daily by looking at an Amsler grid (Fig. 1). The Amsler grid is a diagnostic tool that can help to detect subtle changes in your vision. You should also stop smoking, eat a healthy balanced diet that includes leafy green vegetables, and protect your eyes from UV light with protective sunglasses or head gear with wide brims.

Amsler Chart - Age-related macular degeneration - SNEC

Treatment for Age-related macular degeneration

Treatment options for wet AMD :

  • Laser photocoagulation. A surgical procedure involving the application of a hot laser.
  • Photodynamic therapy with verteporfin. This method uses a non-thermal laser together with an intravenous drug to seal and halt or slow the progression of the condition.
  • Drugs. Macugen and Lucentis are examples of drugs delivered into the eye through injections to block the growth of the abnormal blood vessels.

There is no treatment for dry AMD although magnifiers can help with reading.

Risk Factors of Age-related macular degeneration

Your risk increases with :

  • Age. A local community study by the Singapore Eye Research Institute in 1997 showed that one in four persons aged 60 and above in Singapore suff ers from the condition.
  • Family history
  • Gender. Women are more likely to develop AMD.
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Cardiovascular diseases

Normal versus impaired vision affected by age-related macular degeneration - SNEC.