Age-related macular degeneration

What Is It?

Macular degeneration is a common cause of blindness and vision impairment among people older than 50 in the United States. This condition also is called age-related macular degeneration, or AMD. AMD damages the macula, a small part of the eye’s light-sensitive retina, the layer of tissue that sends vision signals to the brain. Because the macula is responsible for seeing sharp details directly in the center of the field of vision, damage caused by AMD can interfere with:

  • The ability to see straight ahead, necessary for driving and viewing distances, such as when recognizing faces or watching television
  • Fine, detailed vision, necessary for reading newsprint, sewing, working with crafts and making repairs

Macular degeneration is characterized by deposits known as drusen that develop in the macula, although the reason these deposits accumulate is not known. There are two ways to lose vision as a result of macular degeneration. Both occur during the early stage of the disorder.

see Age-related macular degeneration in Encyclopedia

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised:

Diseases and Conditions Center

  A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.