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Macular Degeneration

Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a degenerative eye disease that causes damage to the macula, the central part of the retina at the back of the eye that allows us to see fine details clearly. AMD can impair central vision.

People who are affected by AMD may have problems reading, driving, and performing activities that require clear central vision. In severe cases, AMD makes close work like threading a needle or reading a book difficult or impossible. When the macula does not function correctly, we experience blurriness or darkness in the centre of our vision. Although AMD reduces vision in the central part of the retina, it does not tend to affect peripheral vision. AMD alone does not usually result in total blindness. Most people continue to have some useful vision and are able to live independently. AMD is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss in our senior population.

Stages of Age-related Macular Degeneration

The Dry Stage

This is the more common form. In this type of AMD, the delicate tissues of the macula become thinned and slowly lose function over a period of years to decades.

The Wet Stage

This is less common but is typically more damaging. The wet type of AMD is caused by the growth of abnormal blood vessels behind the macula. The abnormal blood vessels tend to haemorrhage or leak fluid, resulting in the formation of scar tissue if left untreated. In most instances, the wet stage develops in addition to the dry stage of AMD.

AMD develops differently in each person and the symptoms tend to vary. AMD may cause a progressive loss of central sight; however, it does not usually cause total blindness. Peripheral vision is unaffected, allowing a certain amount of mobility in normal surroundings. If left untreated, the wet type of AMD may progress rapidly.


  • Blurry vision
  • Distorted vision
  • Straight lines appear wavy
  • Objects may appear as the wrong shape or size
  • The loss of clear, correct colours
  • Difficulty reading
  • A dark, empty area in the centre of vision

The following vision enhancement products may help people with AMD to retain independence in their homes.

Products include electronic magnifiers and devices that turn text into speech to read aloud mail, bills, books, and other printed materials. Video magnifiers and screen magnification software can help.

  • Desktop Video Magnifiers allow you to read magazines and letters, view family photos, write checks, or engage in your favourite hobby, all in the comfort of your home or office.
  • Electronic Handheld Video Magnifiers can slip comfortably into a pocket or purse, giving you easy access to photos, letters, menus, prescription labels, and so much more, wherever you go.
  • Portable Video Magnifiers move from school to home to the office to help you see the board, read your assignments, take notes, do crafts, or to read, write, and view business presentations.
  •  ZoomText Screen Magnification Software provides screen magnification and screen reading for low vision computer users.

The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.