Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is the most common cause of vision loss in those aged over 50. It causes a gradual loss of central (but not peripheral) vision. Central vision is needed for close up, detailed work and for things like reading and driving. The disease does not lead to complete blindness.

The retina is made up of two main layers:

  • An inner layer of ‘seeing cells’ called rods and cones. These cells react to light and send electrical signals down tiny nerve fibres to the brain.
  • The outer layer – the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) – is a layer of cells behind the rods and cones. These cells help to nourish and support the rods and cones

What is age-related macular degeneration?

ARMD is a condition that occurs when cells in the macula degenerate. This occurs with partial breakdown of the RPE and the cells become damaged and die. Damage to the macula affects your central vision which is needed for reading, writing, driving, recognising people’s faces and doing other fine tasks. The rest of the retina is used for peripheral vision – the ‘side’ vision which is not focused. Therefore, without a macula you can still see enough to get about, be aware of objects and people, and be independent. However, the loss of central vision will severely affect normal sight.

What are the symptoms of age-related macular degeneration?

The main early symptom is blurring of central vision despite using your usual glasses. In the early stages of the condition you may notice that:

  • You need brighter light to read by.
  • Words in a book or newspaper may become blurred.
  • Colours appear less bright.
  • You have difficulty recognising faces.


A recent study into lifestyle factors and nutritional supplements relating to AMD, found that smoking and obesity were high risk factors.

They also found high dietary intakes of omega-3 fatty acids, and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin have been associated with a lower risk of prevalence and incidence in AMD.

Vitamin B and extracts from goji berry, Gingko biloba and berry anthocyanins (antioxidants found in blue coloured berries) were also subjects of research, but there has been no concluding scientific evidence yet.

The report concluded that:

  • Stopping smoking is important advice to prevent or slow the progress of AMD.
  • Whilst there is no recommendation for routine nutritional or vitamins supplementation for primary prevention, patients with documented intermediate risk of AMD or advanced AMD in one eye are recommended to take vitamin and mineral supplements that contain:
    • Vitamins C, E, beta-carotene and zinc with copper in which helps in reducing the risk progression to advanced AMD in patients with intermediate AMD or with advanced AMD in one eye.


Always see a doctor or optometrist/optician promptly if you develop visual loss or visual distortion.

To read the full abstract of the research study please click on the link below:

Information in this blog was collated from information provided by and