Can I Have Laser Eye Surgery If I Have Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)?

23 May 2024

By Author: Alex J Shortt

Laser eye surgery is a highly safe and effective treatment to correct a variety of common visual impairments. With so many different types of laser eye surgery options (e.g., SMILE vs. LASIK eye surgery), many people who are considering treatment often need clarification about which specific laser eye surgery is right for them.


Our website provides extensive helpful information about the different treatments. However, those considering laser eye surgery should consider booking a free virtual consultation with one of our experts. During the consultation, we can explain the type of treatment that would be most beneficial for their specific lifestyle and goals.


What is Age-related Macular Degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a progressive eye disease that primarily affects older adults. It occurs when the macula, the central part of the retina responsible for detailed central vision, deteriorates over time. AMD is the leading cause of severe vision loss and blindness among individuals over 50 years old in developed countries. Age-related macular degeneration can significantly affect a person’s eyesight, making it challenging to perform daily tasks that require clear central vision, such as reading, driving, recognizing faces, and seeing fine details. Early detection through regular eye exams and prompt treatment, particularly for wet AMD, can help slow down the progression of the disease and preserve vision.


What Are the Different Types of Macular Degeneration?   

Dry AMD: This is the most common form, accounting for about 80-90% of cases. It involves the gradual breakdown of cells in the macula, leading to the formation of small yellow deposits called drusen. As dry AMD progresses, the macula may thin and develop pigmentary changes. This can result in blurred or distorted central vision, difficulty reading, decreased brightness and colour perception, and possibly a blind spot in the centre of the visual field. Dry AMD typically progresses slowly, but it can eventually lead to significant vision loss in advanced stages.

Wet AMD: Although less common, wet AMD is more severe and progresses more rapidly than dry AMD. It occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow beneath the retina and leak fluid or blood, causing damage to the macula. This can result in sudden and severe central vision loss, as well as distortions or blind spots in the visual field. Without prompt treatment, wet AMD can cause irreversible vision loss.

What Are the Symptoms of Age Macular Degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration can present with various symptoms, including:

1. Blurred or distorted central vision: Straight lines may appear wavy, and objects may seem blurry or out of focus, particularly when trying to read or recognize faces.

2. Dark or blank spots in central vision: Patients may notice missing areas or blind spots in their central field of vision, making it difficult to see fine details or read.

3. Decreased brightness or colour perception: Colours may appear less vibrant, and it may be difficult to distinguish between shades.

4. Difficulty adapting to low-light conditions: Patients may struggle with vision in dimly lit environments or experience increased sensitivity to glare.

5. Metamorphopsia: This is a condition where objects appear distorted or misshapen, particularly in the central visual field.

AMD can occur in one or both eyes, depending on the individual and the specific subtype of AMD (dry or wet). In some cases, AMD may initially affect only one eye before eventually progressing to involve both eyes. However, it’s also possible for AMD to develop independently in each eye. Factors such as genetics, lifestyle, and environmental influences may contribute to the development and progression of AMD. Regular eye exams are essential for early detection and management of AMD, as prompt intervention can help preserve vision and slow down disease progression.


Can I Have Laser Eye Surgery If I Have Age-related Macular Degeneration?

It is recommended that patients with AMD be cautious when considering laser eye surgery.

AMD primarily affects the macula, the central part of the retina responsible for detailed central vision, while laser eye surgery addresses refractive errors by reshaping the cornea to improve vision.

Laser eye surgery cannot treat the underlying cause of or improve AMD.

To date, treatment options for patients with Dry AMD were limited to dietary supplements and lifestyle interventions. However innovative technology (The Valeda Light Delivery System (LDS), developed by LumiThera and provided by Optegra Eye Hospital Manchester) is now available to treat Dry AMD. The treatment, called photo biomodulation therapy, utilises wavelengths of red, yellow, and near infra-red light) to rejuvenate the macular on a cellular level. The procedure is safe, non-invasive, and painless. 

Patients with wet AMD are treated with anti-VEGF injections to slow down disease progression and preserve remaining vision.

However, in some instances, it is possible to consider laser eye surgery for patients with very early dry AMD. Careful consultation with a qualified and experienced surgeon is essential before continuing with the decision to have the procedure. Learn more about who qualifies for laser eye surgery.


How Does Laser Eye Surgery Work for Age Macular Degeneration?

Laser eye surgery will not treat or cure age-related macular degeneration. The procedure works in the same way as correcting your vision with spectacles and contact lenses. Laser eye surgery will reshape your cornea (window of the eye) to focus light on the retina. It is important to note that if you have AMD and your vision does not improve after fully correcting it with the latest prescription from your optometrist, laser eye surgery cannot fix this. 


What’s Next? Book Your Free Consultation Today

Learn more about whether laser eye surgery might be the right treatment for you by booking a free consultation. 

Alex Shortt Headshot

By Author: Alex J Shortt

Mr Shortt is a leading ophthalmic surgeon and an expert in the fields of cornea, cataract and refractive surgery.

Medically Reviewed Date: 23rd May 2024


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