Signs and Symptoms of Macular Degeneration

Symptoms of Macular Degeneration | Randall Wong MD Retina Specialist

Signs and Symptoms of Macular Degeneration

is the deterioration of the central portion of the retinathe macula, which is the area of the retina that controls visual acuity and color perception. Macular degeneration usually occurs in people over the age of 55 and is more common in people of northern European ancestry.

Symptoms of Macular Degeneration

The most common symptoms of macular degeneration are blurry vision, blind spots, and distortion.  

New distortion should always be examined and can be monitored at home with the use of the Amsler grid.

Blurriness, blind spots, and distortions are also common symptoms in the following eye diseases:

  • macular edema (swelling) from many causes
  • epiretinal membrane
  • macular hole
  • diabetic retinopathy

Distortion is a common symptom of a disease of the macula and is does not signify a particular disease (i.e. get examined).

The Macula

The macula provides our central “20/20” vision.  As you are reading this article, your eyes are moving to keep the text focused on your macula.  When you are staring at an object, you are focusing the object on your macula.

Macular degeneration can be wet or dry and both types progressively affect the central vision causing blurriness, blind spots, and distortions. However, the wet form causes more serious vision loss.

Retinal Degeneration

For reasons yet to be discovered, the macula degenerates with age.  There are probably environmental risk factors, such as smoking, which increases the chances of developing macular degeneration.

The vast majority, 90% of cases, are the dry variety, which causes very slow, yet progressive blurry vision.  Wet ARMD causes the development of abnormal blood vessels within the layers of the macula.  These blood vessels cause destruction of the normal retinal tissue and can leak fluid and bleed.

Regardless of the type of macular degeneration, the initial symptoms are the sameblurriness, blind spots, and distortion.  However, wet macular degeneration can destroy vision rapidlyin days or weeks.  

What Can You Do?

If you have symptoms such as persistent blurry vision, blind spots, and/or distortion, make sure you get a complete dilated eye examination. 

While there are many causes of blurry and distorted vision other than macular degeneration, you want to make sure that you get an early diagnosis so whatever eye condition is causing your visual symptoms, the proper treatment can be initiated early in the process.  

Early diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases may prevent or limit permanent vision loss.


  • Liam
    Posted at 09:23h, 04 October Reply

    Hi Dr,
    Last week I was terrified to be told that I had early dry macular degeneration at 56, despite no eye problems (20/20 vision with correction), very healthy lifestyle and diet, very good BMI. no relatives with any thing like this. Diagnoses was by an optician who took a photo of back of my eye. She said she could see drusen there in the macula. Can’t think of anything in my lifestyle that could lead to this. Both my parents are elderly and only my mum has cataracts (she is 86). My dad is 90 and has no eye problems at all. Is it possible that this is something else?

    • Randall Wong, M.D.
      Posted at 14:57h, 07 October Reply

      It is possible this is something else, but I don’t diagnose my own patients with macular degeneration simply due to the presence of drusen. There should be other signs and symptoms. I would seek the opinion of a retina specialist. Randy

  • Steph Coster
    Posted at 15:58h, 15 November Reply

    Dear Dr Wong,
    During an eye exam for flashes (diagnosed as PVD), I was told I have “early signs of macular degeneration”. I’m 31, healthy and as far as I’m aware, my vision is fine, barring the eye flashes. What might he have meant by this? And if I have PVD and macular degeneration at this age, does it mean my eyes are deteriorating or ageing rapidly?
    Thank you.

    • Randall Wong, M.D.
      Posted at 19:07h, 20 August Reply

      Perhaps you are given the diagnosis of macular degeneration because of the presence of drusen. You are too young to have macular degeneration and probably a PVD for that matter.

      Sorry for the long delay.


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