Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in people older than 55 years of age. Macular degeneration causes loss of the sharp, central vision needed for many daily tasks that involve looking straight at objects. People with AMD may find it difficult or impossible to drive, read, sew, or recognize faces. Many also have trouble distinguishing colors.
AMD results from deterioation of the central part of the retina, called the macula (MAK-yoo-luh). The retina is a tissue-thin membrane lining the back of the eye. We see objects because light passes through the eye and strikes the retina. Light-sensitive cells in the retina capture images from the outside world and relay them to the brain. The macula, which is about the size of a pencil eraser, relays images in the direct line of focus. People lose this central vision when macular cells degenerate, or stop working normally. The degeneration and vision loss usually occurs slowly, over a period of years. People with AMD retain peripheral vision, or side vision.
Facts about AMD