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Symptoms of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

What Are the Symptoms of Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

In its early stages, age-related macular degeneration may not have symptoms and may be unrecognized until it progresses or affects both eyes. The first sign of macular degeneration is usually distortion of straight lines. This may progress to a gradual loss of central vision.

Symptoms of macular degeneration include:

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Understanding Macular Degeneration -- Diagnosis and Treatment

Your ophthalmologist or optometrist will inspect the macula, the portion of the retina that is responsible for your central vision, as part of a comprehensive eye exam. If macular degeneration is suspected, a special photographic procedure using dye, called fluorescein angiography, may be performed. The test details the pattern of your eye's blood vessels and can detect a variety of abnormalities.  

Read the Understanding Macular Degeneration -- Diagnosis and Treatment article > >

  • Straight lines start to appear distorted, or the center of vision becomes distorted
  • Dark, blurry areas or white out appears in the center of vision
  • Diminished or changed color perception

If you experience any of these symptoms, see an ophthalmologist as soon as possible.

When to Seek Medical Care for Macular Degeneration

For age-related macular degeneration, you should see an ophthalmologist (a medical doctor who specializes in eye care and surgery).

  • In general, people older than 45 years should have a complete eye exam and then follow-up exams every two to four years.
  • People with age-related macular degeneration should check their vision daily and promptly notify their ophthalmologist of any changes in their vision.

It's very rare that a person must go to a hospital for macular degeneration problems. Because of the specialized nature of eye exam equipment, macular degeneration problems are usually handled best in the ophthalmologist's office.

If you notice a sudden decrease in vision in one or both of your eyes and you cannot reach your ophthalmologist, go to the hospital's emergency department. Timely treatment of early wet age-related macular degeneration can prevent further visual loss.

Visual symptoms and/or eye pain may not be symptoms of age-related macular degeneration. You may need prompt diagnosis and treatment of a different eye condition.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Brian S. Boxer Wachler, MD on March 28, 2013
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