AMD is an eye condition that causes damage to the macula, a small spot near the center of the retina and the part of the eye needed for sharp, central vision, which lets us see objects that are straight ahead. AMD is a very common eye condition and a leading cause of vision loss among people age 50 and older.
For some people AMD advances very slowly and for others the disease progresses faster and may lead to a loss of vision in one or both eyes. As AMD progresses, a blurred area near the center of vision is a common symptom. Over time, the blurred area may grow larger or you may develop blank spots in your central vision.
AMD by itself will not lead to total blindness. However, the loss of central vision in AMD can interfere with simple everyday activities, such as the ability to see faces, drive, read or write.
The macula is the most sensitive part of the retina, which is located at the back of the eye. It is made up of millions of light-sensing cells that provide sharp, central vision. The retina turns light into electrical signals and then sends these electrical signals through the optic nerve to the brain, where they are translated into the images we see. When the macula is damaged, the center of your field of view may appear blurry, distorted, or dark.
Age is a major risk factor for AMD. The disease is most likely to occur after age 60, but it can occur earlier. Research shows that smoking doubles the risk of AMD and that AMD is more common among Caucasians than among African-Americans or Hispanics/Latinos. People with a family history of AMD are at higher risk.