Macular Degeneration Prognosis

Macular degeneration prognosis is of course different for every body and ... different for each eye.

How fast one's macular degeneration will progress is a major concern for most people diagnosed with this retinal  disease.

macular degeneration prognosis

One person may experience a different rate of progression in their right eye compared to their left eye. 

It's possible that one eye can have dry age related macular degeneration and the other eye the wet form.

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Blindness or Low Vision?

"I can't tell you how supportive and reassuring your site has been since they first told me about this a few months ago. Despite having lived a full and wonderful life, the loss of my ability to see the faces of those around me has been the extremely weighing on me. Your site has helped in so many ways to hold off the fear and to help me understand how it will progress and what to do.

Thank you. P"

macular degeneration progression

For the majority of people age related macular degeneration (AMD) progresses slowly and affects only one's central vision. It is not blindness. It is considered low vision. Low vision is visual impairment that cannot be corrected by:


surgery or 

medical treatment. 

However, a person still has some usable peripheral or side vision that with training, low vision aids and magnifiers can continue to do many of the activities they enjoyed before. 

The most important factor for your macular degeneration prognosis will be if you have dry macular degeneration or if you have wet macular degeneration.  Dr. Michael A. Samuel, ophthalmologist and author of Macular Degeneration: A Complete Guide for Patients and Their Families writes,"There's usually no way to know, once symptoms appear, how fast the disease will progress. You can go for years with a mild case of dry AMD, only to wake up one morning with drastic changes that indicate the onset of wet AMD."

Macular Degeneration Progression

Macular degeneration is a chronic eye disease that typically affects older adults and results in a loss of vision in the central field of vision. This condition affects the macula, which is a small area in the center of the retina responsible for sharp, central vision.

The progression of macular degeneration can vary significantly among individuals. However, the disease generally progresses in the following stages:

1. Early Stage

In the early stage, most people do not experience vision loss or have symptoms. The first sign of AMD is often the presence of drusen (tiny yellow or white deposits under the retina) that is seen by an eye specialist during an eye examination.

2. Intermediate Stage

In this stage, some people may start experiencing vision changes, like the need for more light, print appears blurry or the ability to distinguish black from dark blue is difficult.  

3. Late Stage

In this stage, vision loss becomes noticeable. The two forms of late macular degeneration are geographic atrophy (dry) and neovascular (wet). In geographic atrophy, gradual breakdown of cells in the macula leads to vision loss. In neovascular or "wet" macular degeneration, abnormal blood vessels underneath the retina begin to grow, which means the ability to see clearly right in front of you is diminished. .

macular degeneration prognosis

These three stages pertain to age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the most common type. There are other types like Stargardt disease, a form of macular degeneration that affects children and young adults.

Typically, macular degeneration does not lead to complete blindness as it does not affect peripheral vision. 

A Personal Journey from Dry to Wet AMD

I wish someone told me about their experience with wet macular degeneration when I was diagnosed. 

macular degeneration prognosis

Having no guidance can be scary. This is my personal story with dry, then wet AMD in both eyes, and begins with who I am and what I do.

I’m a photographer and portrait artist; I need my eyes... Read the rest of her story ....

Dry Macular Degeneration Prognosis

Almost 85-90% of those with macular degeneration have the dry or atrophic form. The progression of dry macular degeneration is slow and and may take years for it to worsen. The factors that play into the progression of this disease are: 

1) Environment - toxins in the air and food we eat causes free radical damage

2. Diet - diets high in high glycemic carbohydrates,  unhealthy fats and low in antioxidants

macular degeneration prognosis

3. Smoking - Smoking is one of the highest risk factors for the development and progression of macular degeneration

macular degeneration prognosis

4) Lack of exercise 

5) Family History - have parents or siblings with AMD

macular degeneration causes

6) Obesity

"Dr. Johanna Seddon (director of epidemiology at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health) was lead author of the study.

They found an association with body mass index, waist circumference, and waist-hip ratio to the progression of age-related macular degeneration. Their results provide new information regarding modifiable factors for individuals with the early or intermediate stages of MD. Overall and abdominal obesity increased the risk for progression to advanced AMD, and more physical activity tended to decrease risk."

Arch Ophthalmol. 2003 Jun;121(6):785-92.

However, the dry form can turn into the wet form... and it can turn into the wet form very suddenly, even if you have early stage AMD. 

All people who have the wet form had the dry form first.

There is no way to tell if or when the dry form will turn into the wet form.

How to Influence Your Macular Degeneration Prognosis

Meanwhile, during this time you can be proactive in many ways in slowing the progression of AMD and adapting to your change in vision. 

Protect Your Vision

Wear sunglasses and wide brimmed hats or visors. Avoid being out in the sun from 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM. Stay away from tanning booths.  Exposure to ultraviolet light increases the formation of free radicals. This exposure is accumulative. Free radicals cause degeneration and damage to the cell walls.

amber lens in black sunglasses frame

"Almost every single one of the risk factors we have for macular degeneration can be linked to free radicals."

Dr. Lylas G. Mogk, M. D. author of Macular Degeneration: The Complete Guide to Saving and Maximizing Your Sight 

Proper Nutrition

macular degeneration nutrition

Antioxidants and omega-3's are vital for your health and especially your eye health. 

Take Macular Degeneration Vitamins

Eye health vitamins may help to protect your vision by building your macular pigment.

According to the U.S. Federal government's National Eye Institute the Age-Related Eye Disease Study found that: "taking high levels of antioxidants and zinc can reduce the risk of developing advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD) by about 25 percent." 

Macular Degeneration Vitamins

Prepare for the Future

Become aware of the many visual aids and training available from a low vision specialist.

macular degeneration aids

Magnifiers, proper lighting along with large number phones and electronic book readers all help to maximize one's useable vision. 

Wet Macular Degeneration Prognosis

Wet macular degeneration causes loss of central vision much quicker than the dry form ...and each eye can have a different form of macular degeneration.

So one eye may lose central vision quicker than the other eye.

Fortunately, only 10%-15% of AMD are the wet or exudative form. In this form, blood vessels that are weak and fragile grow from the choroid layer (a layer of tissue under the macula)and they leak blood and fluid. This damages the cone cells in the macula.  Wet macular degeneration is treated with regular eye injections that help to prevent new leaky blood vessels from growing. 

wet macular degeneration prognosis

The macula is a very small little spot in the retina which is responsible for your vision straight ahead. This little spot is only about 5% of your retina - however it is responsible for 35% of your visual field. 

As AMD progresses it is the visual field right in front of you - like someone's face that you are talking to or a book in front of you - that becomes distorted or blurry.

This means that the rest of the retina is still functioning and thus you still have side or peripheral vision - which is very different than total blindness.  

One's macular degeneration prognosis is different for everyone and is dependent on many factors that can contribute to the degeneration of the retina.  

Return to Definition of AMD 

Go from Macular Degeneration Prognosis to Definition of AMD

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