Age Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD)

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Age Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD)


Age Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD) is a condition that develops in older people when the central part of the retina, called the macula, is damaged. The retina is the part of the eye which processes the images we see and converts them into electrical signals. These signals travel through the optic nerve and then into the brain, where the images become a part of our conscious perception of the world. The macula is the central area in the back of the eye which is critical for fine visual detail and color vision.

With advancing ARMD you will begin to lose part, or even all, of your central vision. Fine visual tasks such as reading, or even driving become more difficult, and both your near and far vision can be affected. Your peripheral (side) vision will still be normal. For example, if you imagine that you are looking at a clock with hands, you may see the numbers, but not the hands of the clock.

ARMD is the leading cause of visual loss in people over the age of 50 but can sometimes be seen in younger patients.

About 10 million Americans are affected to one degree or another; in fact, it affects more people than cataracts and glaucoma combined.


This is the most common, and more than 85% of patients with ARMD are diagnosed with this type. There is no treatment at this time to reverse dry ARMD. This form of the disease typically develops slowly and may go unnoticed for years, but it can cause central atrophy (thinning) of the retinal tissue, resulting in significant central vision loss.


This is less common, affecting about 15% of patients, but is often far more serious. It usually develops much faster and causes noticeable distortion and even darkness in the central vision. Wet ARMD is a chronic condition that develops when new, abnormal blood vessels, grow under and even into the retina. These new vessels may leak blood or other fluids which cause swelling of the retina in the short term, and scarring of the retina in the long term. Because it is a chronic condition it can only be managed, but not cured.

Certain risk factors increase the chances that a person will develop this condition. Smoking doubles or even triples the risk of developing vision loss from macular degeneration. High blood pressure and high cholesterol contribute slightly to the risk of ARMD. Poor nutrition, especially the lack of antioxidants and lutein in the diet, may also contribute to the condition. When untreated, ARMD can lead to vision loss and may even lead to blindness.

Take Action

It is important to have regular visits with your eye doctor, as many people don’t realize they have this condition until their vision is already quite blurry.  You may monitor your vision at home with an Amsler Grid. You should report any distortion to your eye doctor right away.