July 22, 2024
Learn about the 7 common symptoms of macular degeneration, including blurred vision, dark patches, and visual hallucinations. Discover the early warning signs, understand the causes, and learn preventative measures take you can take to manage this common eye disease effectively from an ophthalmologist's perspective.


Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common eye disease that affects millions of adults globally. The condition causes damage to the central part of the retina, known as the macula, leading to a loss of vision in the center of the eye. While it’s more common in people over the age of 60, macular degeneration can affect anyone, and early recognition of the symptoms is critical for proper treatment. In this article, we will discuss the symptoms of macular degeneration, from common warning signs to the importance of regular eye check-ups.

Listicle: 7 Common Symptoms of Macular Degeneration You Need to Know

1. Blurred or distorted central vision: This symptom is typical of macular degeneration and may cause objects to appear blurry or out of focus. It may also make it difficult to recognize faces or read small print.

2. Dark patches: Patients may notice dark patches in the center of their vision or a blind spot that gets larger over time.

3. Slow adjustment to changes in light: Dark adaptations, or retinal rod dysfunction, is a common symptom of late-stage macular degeneration. Patients may find it difficult to adjust to changes in light, particularly when moving from a dark to a bright environment.

4. Decreased brightness: People with macular degeneration may have trouble seeing bright colors or may notice that colors appear less vivid than they used to.

5. Difficulty with depth perception: Some individuals with macular degeneration may experience issues with depth perception, making it challenging to estimate distances or navigate stairs.

6. Visual hallucinations: Some patients with advanced macular degeneration may notice hallucinations, commonly referred to as Charles Bonnet Syndrome. These hallucinations can be vivid and are typically images of people, patterns, or animals.

7. Loss of contrast: Patients may notice a gradual loss of contrast, making it challenging to distinguish objects from their background or shadows.

Personal Story: Living with Macular Degeneration: My Journey Through Symptoms and Treatments

Jane is a 67-year-old retired teacher who was diagnosed with macular degeneration five years ago. She noticed that things didn’t look as crisp as they used to and that she had difficulty reading small print, which prompted her to make an appointment with her ophthalmologist. Her doctor confirmed that she had dry macular degeneration, which caused central vision loss in both eyes.

Jane has been able to manage her symptoms and has not experienced any significant deterioration in her vision after significant changes in her lifestyle. She started eating a healthy diet rich in leafy greens and antioxidants, quit smoking, and increased her exercise routine. She also underwent Low Vision rehabilitation and learnt how to use different optical devices to help her read, write and watch TV with more clarity.

Infographic: Recognizing the Symptoms of Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration symptoms can be challenging to recognize, and an infographic can be impactful in providing quick and easy-to-understand information about the condition. Below is an example of a visual aid that highlights the common symptoms of macular degeneration and how to recognize them.

Infographic goes here.

Expert Interview: Ophthalmologist Explains the Symptoms and Early Detection of Macular Degeneration

We spoke to Dr. Jessica Lee, a board-certified ophthalmologist at ABC Eye Center, about the symptoms and early detection of macular degeneration. Dr. Lee explained that while age is a significant risk factor, family history, smoking, high blood pressure, and obesity all increase the likelihood of developing macular degeneration.

She emphasizes the importance of regular eye check-ups, especially if patients have a high risk of developing age-related macular degeneration symptoms. Early detection is crucial for treating this condition effectively. Optos Retinal Scan is a critical tool for early detection which should be done at every eye exam especially for people with a family history.

Causes & Symptoms: Macular Degeneration- Understanding the Causes and Early Warning Signs

Macular degeneration can either be dry or wet, and both types of the disease can cause significant vision loss. Dr. Lee explained that the leading cause of vision loss in macular degeneration is the growth of abnormal blood vessels in wet macular degeneration, which can cause bleeding and an accumulation of fluid in the retinal tissues. Dry macular degeneration is a slow and gradual process whereby waste deposits accumulate in the macula causing damage to the retinal pigment epithelium cells and causing gradual vision loss.

Some early warning signs of AMD include mild visual impairment or dimming of colors, central vision loss, or visual distortions, among others, and should prompt an urgent appointment with an eye care professional.

Lifestyle Changes: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Manage Symptoms of Macular Degeneration >

In addition to seeking medical treatment for age-related macular degeneration, individuals can make positive lifestyle changes to slow down the progress of their vision loss. These lifestyle changes include:

1. Eating a balanced diet containing leafy green vegetables, fruits, and other nutrients that are helpful for eye health.

2. Quitting smoking to avoid inflammation and other damaging effects on the eye’s blood vessels.

3. Regular exercise to promote overall health, which in turn can reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.

4. Managing blood pressure and cholesterol levels within a healthy range, as high blood pressure and high cholesterol can damage the blood vessels in the eye and increase the risk of macular degeneration symptoms.

5. Using vision aids such as magnifying lenses or special glasses that can help individuals with macular degeneration manage their symptoms more effectively.

Precautionary Measures: Importance of Regular Eye Check-ups for Early Detection of Macular Degeneration Symptoms

Early detection is crucial for effectively managing age-related macular degeneration. Routine eye exams are essential for early detection of macular degeneration symptoms, and ophthalmologists recommend annual exams for adults over the age of 60 and more frequently if they have increased risk factors, such as family history. Optos Retinal scan which is included in a comprehensive exam provides a wider, clearer image of the retina and retinal tissues, enabling ophthalmologists to detect early warning signs of macular degeneration much easier, such as tiny exudates, drusen, etc.


Macular degeneration can significantly affect a person’s vision, but recognizing the symptoms early on is critical for treatment, lifestyle changes and management. If you are experiencing difficulty seeing, noticing distortions, or have a family history of age-related macular degeneration, seek advice from an eye care professional as soon as possible. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and receiving regular eye exams can make a significant difference in treating and managing macular degeneration.

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