Macular degeneration – age-related

Alternative Names

Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD); AMD; senile macular degeneration (SMD) is an older name that is no longer in common use.

Definition of Macular degeneration – age-related

Macular degeneration is an eye disorder that slowly destroys sharp, central vision. This makes it difficult to see fine details and read.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The retina is the inner layer of tissue at the back of the eye. It changes light and images that enter the eye into nerve signals that are sent to the brain. The macula is the part of the retina that makes vision sharper and more detailed.


At first you may not have symptoms. As the disease progresses, your central vision may be affected.

Signs and tests

You will be given drops to enlarge (dilate) your pupils. The eye care provider will then use special lenses to view your retina, blood vessels, and optic nerve.


Once dry macular degeneration becomes advanced or severe, no treatment can restore lost vision.

Expectations (prognosis)

Most people with mild dry macular degeneration will not have disabling central vision loss. However, there is no way to predict who will progress to a more severe form of the disease.


Franklin W. Lusby, MD, Ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 8/31/2010

Macular degeneration

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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