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Symptoms of Macular Degeneration

by Amy Scholten, MPH

In some people, macular degeneration advances so slowly that it has little effect on their vision. But in others, the disease progresses faster and may lead to vision loss. Sometimes only one eye is affected while the other eye remains free of problems for many years. People with dry macular degeneration in one eye often do not notice any changes in their vision. With one eye seeing clearly, they can still drive, read, and see fine details. Some people may notice changes in their vision only if macular degeneration affects both of their eyes. Both dry and wet macular degeneration cause no pain.

Symptoms of macular degeneration include:

Blurred vision - This is an early sign. An example of early findings is that you may need more light for reading and other tasks.

Difficulty seeing details in front of you - You may have a difficult time seeing faces, or words in a book.

Blind spot - A small, growing blind spot will appear in the middle of your field of vision. This spot occurs because a group of cells in the macula have stopped working properly. Over time, the blurred spot may get bigger and darker, taking more of your central vision.

Crooked lines - An early symptom of wet macular degeneration is straight lines that will appear crooked or wavy. This happens because the newly formed blood vessels leak fluid under the macula. The fluid raises the macula from its normal place at the back of the eye and distorts your vision.

Lighting - Images appear more gray in color and colors are not as bright

Contact your eye care professional immediately for an eye exam if you notice:

  • Visual distortions
  • Sudden decrease in central vision
  • A central blind spot
  • Any other visual problems


Macular Degeneration Foundation

National Eye Institute

Last reviewed October 2004 by Marc Ellman, MD

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