Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects the retina, which is responsible for sharp central vision needed to see straight ahead of you. This common eye disease is typically asymptomatic until vision loss occurs. Therefore, it is extremely important to get screened for AMD with Dr. Robert L. Epstein on a yearly basis.

Macular Degeneration

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Macular Degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in the world. Macular degeneration is more common in people over age 65. The disease breaks down the macula, the light-sensitive part of the retina responsible for the sharp, direct vision needed to read or drive.

 Most cases of macular degeneration are related to aging, but it also can occur as a side effect of some drugs, and it appears to run in families. Macular degeneration can produce a slow or sudden painless loss of vision. If straight lines look wavy, vision begins to seem fuzzy, or there are shadowy areas in central vision, it may indicate early signs of age-related macular degeneration.

Risk Factors for Age-Related Macular Degeneration

  • Advanced Age – AMD is most common in individuals who are over the age of 50.
  • Genetics – There are specific genes that are responsible for the development of AMD, and those genes tend to run in families.
  • Obesity and Heart Disease – Individuals who are overweight or who have heart disease are at increased risk for developing AMD.
  • Race – Individuals who are Caucasian have an increased risk of developing AMD when compared to other races.
  • Tobacco Usage – Individuals who smoke or who are exposed to cigarette smoke may be at an increased risk for AMD.


Age related macular degeneration or AMD is a very common and increasingly important cause of legal blindness in the United States.  It strikes most often after age 65; at a time when reading may be one of life’s few pleasures. The most elderly are more affected with 15% of people over 85 having AMD. More likely to have the disease are causasians, women, and present or past smokers. Smoking is the most important, preventable cause of macular degeneration. A recent published medical study showed that smokers are three times more likely to get AMD than non smokers.  Past smokers were found to be only 30% more likely than non smokers to get macular degeneration. Multivitamin antioxidant supplementation with zinc and lutein may be helpful in preventing or slowing the progression of macular degeneration.  A diet rich in green leafy vegetables is helpful as well An Amsler grid is a useful tool for monitoring your central visual field. It is an important way to detect and monitoring early and sometimes subtle visual changes in age-related macular degeneration. With the Amsler grid, each eye is tested separately by you.  One kind of Amsler grid, called a Yannuzzi card, is shown here: 

Amsler Grid

To test yourself with the Amsler grid, use adequate lighting and wear your reading glasses or look through the reading portion of your bifocals (if you normally read with spectacles). Hold the Amsler grid at normal reading distance (about 14 inches).  Cover one eye at a time with the palm of your hand. Stare at the center of the chart at all times. Do not let your gaze drift from the center dot.

Then as you check each eye separately, ask yourself:

(a) Are any of the lines crooked or bent?  

(b) Are any of the boxes different in size or shape from the others?  

(c) Are any of the lines wavy, missing, blurry, or discolored?  

You should check each eye with the card held both vertically and horizontally. If you think you or a friend or relative may have macular degeneration, you should seek an examination by an ophthalmologist or eye-MD.  

To schedule an appointment to have your eyes examined for common eye diseases and conditions, like AMD, give The Center for Corrective Eye Surgery a call today at (815) 363-2020.