Macular degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a degenerative eye disease that gradually damages the macula causing progressive loss of central vision. It frequently develops after the age of 50, with the chance of developing the disease increasing with age, although certain forms of the disease can also affect younger people.

What are the symptoms of age-related macular degeneration?

Macular degeneration isn’t painful. You may not even notice you have the condition until you experience a loss of vision. AMD affects activities requiring detail, such as reading and writing.


The more common of the two conditions, dry AMD affects your ability to see fine detail. You may find it difficult to read, use your computer, watch the television, drive, etc. Some people may not realise the change in vision, as the deterioration is so slow.


Wet AMD involves a sudden and sometimes dramatic decline in your central vision, usually in one eye. Typically, wet AMD develops in people who have already had dry AMD. It is very important that anyone who has unusual symptoms, such as straight lines appearing to be wavy or blurring of the central vision, contacts an optometrist as soon as possible.

What causes age-related macular degeneration?

Dry AMD is caused by the gradual break down of light-sensitive cells in the macula over several years. Wet AMD is caused by the growth of blood vessels underneath the macula, which can leak or cause scarring.

It is not known why this is, but it tends to happen as people get older. There are also several risk factors associated with macular degeneration:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Family history
  • Race
  • Smoking
  • Obesity

As it’s an age-related process, it usually involves both eyes, although they may not be affected at the same time.

What help is available?

There is currently no treatment available for dry AMD, but the wet type can sometimes be helped, if it is detected early.

Your optometrist will be able to advise on adjustments you can make to your lifestyle to lower your risk of macular degeneration, such as nutritional supplements to slow the progression of the condition.

Specsavers will monitor your vision and eye health with regular eye tests to to ensure any change to your eyes is detected, as the dry form of AMD has the potential to develop into the wet form of the disease.

If there are signs of wet macular degeneration, your optometrist will refer you to the hospital for prompt treatment.

Did you know?

AA Members are entitled to a free eye test (valued at $60), once every two years. Remember to present your AA Membership card in store.

Frequently asked questions

Free exam for AA Members applies to standard eye examinations only, normally valued at $60. Excludes contact lens examination and visual field checks. Limited to one per AA Member every two years. Available to current AA Members upon presentation of AA Membership card.