Macular Degeneration

Below we explain what Macular Degeneration is, what the symptoms are, how the condition is assessed and any available treatment options.

Age Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD)

The macula is the specialised centre spot of the retina at the back of the eye which allows us to see fine detail and colour. Its degeneration tends to occur in later life and ARMD is the commonest cause of sight loss in the over sixties. ARMD causes a variable degree of central visual loss but never complete blindness, although the worst forms can be very disabling. There are two main types:


Dry ARMD is the most common type. It causes a gradual loss of central (reading) vision. There is no known effective treatment at present, although much scientific effort is being put into the search for this. Visual aids such as magnifiers can help.


Wet ARMD is due to attempts by the body to repair local damage and can result in swelling of the retina, bleeding into it and scarring. It affects up to 10% of people with ARMD and can come on very rapidly and even suddenly.


  • Difficulty reading even with glasses
  • A central blank or dark spot in the sight of one eye
  • Central visual distortion; objects appear irregular in shape and/or blurred
The Lowery Theatre as seen by someone with macular degeneration
The ITV Studios as seen by someone with macular degeneration

The Lowery Theatre and the ITV Studios as seen by someone who has Macular Degeneration


Specialist referral should be made by a GP or Optometrist for any gradual loss of sight. There should be urgent, same day, attendance at an Eye Hospital Accident and Emergency clinic for ANY sudden or rapid central visual loss or onset of distorted sight.


There are now a variety of treatments available for wet ARMD but these need to be applied as early as possible to be effective. The treatments may halt or slow down deterioration and on occasion may even improve the sight.

Further online information


Macular Society


This information can be made available in Braille, or audio CD should you require it, from

Explaining Age Related Macular Degeneration: a micro video

Explore our other pages on eye conditions

Retinitis pigmentosa | Cataracts | Charles Bonnet Syndrome | Chronic Glaucoma | Diabetic Retinopathy | Nystagmus | Hemianopia


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