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Macular degeneration damages your eyesight and around 500,000 people in the UK have it to some degree. It can occur in younger people but commonly affects people over the age of 50 and is the most common cause of sight loss in people over the age of 65 – hence the name ‘age-related macular degeneration’ often abbreviated to AMD.
There’s no cure and treatment for macular degeneration is not available for all forms of the condition. Yet it almost never leads to total blindness and with the right support, there is much you can do to make the most of the sight you have.
Here we look at how macular degeneration affects your sight, the different types of AMD, treatment available and details of organisations that can provide more specialised information and support.
The macula is a small area in the centre of the retina of your eye and helps you see straight ahead, see fine detail and see colour.
If the cells in the macula are damaged or start to work less efficiently as you get older, you’ll find it harder to read and recognise people’s faces. Your side vision, known as peripheral vision, is unaffected and so you can see to get around.
There are two types of macular degeneration - the ‘wet’ form and ‘dry’ form. These descriptions refer to what can be seen when your macula is examined by an eye specialist. They do not describe how your eyes feel if you have the ‘wet’ or ‘dry’ form. The ‘dry’ form accounts for approximately 90% of all cases. It develops slowly over time causing a gradual loss of central vision. There is currently no cure or clinically proven treatment for this condition. You may also get the ‘wet’ form too.
The ‘wet’ form is more serious, can develop relatively quickly and is due to new, fragile blood vessels that grow underneath the macula. They can leak blood or fluid into the eye to cause scarring and permanent damage to the macula. If you notice any sudden change in your vision, you should consult your GP or visit your local accident and emergency department.
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