Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of visual impairment in the UK. As we get older, the macula (the central part of the retina responsible for detailed vision) can begin to break down, causing blurred vision. The macula allows us to see fine detail for activities such as reading, recognising faces, watching television and driving. It also helps us to see colour.
The earliest sign of macular degeneration is often the appearance of small yellow deposits called drusen, which form under the retina. These are accumulated waste products which, as they get larger, stop the flow of nutrients to the retina and cause the layer of supporting cells beneath it to become very thin. When cells in this layer die, the overlying macula degenerates and loses its visual function.
There are two main types of AMD: dry and wet. The extent of the degeneration may be different in each eye and may not progress at the same rate.