Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Macular degeneration stops you from focusing on close objects.

Macular degeneration stops you from focusing on close objects.
beginning of content

Macular degeneration

Macular degeneration is a serious and permanent eye disease that causes loss of eyesight in the centre of your field of vision. While there is no cure for macular degeneration, there are things you can do to reduce your risk or stop further visions loss.

What is macular degeneration?

Macular degeneration is a lasting eye disease that causes vision loss. It is caused by damage to the nerves in your eye.

It causes blurred vision and even loss of vision in the middle of what you would normally see. This makes it hard to drive, to read and to see people’s faces. In severe cases the person may become legally blind.

There are two main types of macular degeneration:

  • dry – develops slowly and causes gradual slight to severe vision loss. It is the most common kind.
  • wet – the wet kind develops very quickly. It happens when abnormal blood vessels grow under the macular, which leak blood and fluid. This is the most serious kind.

Since macular degeneration mostly arises in people aged 50 or older, it is also known as aged-related macular degeneration, or ARMD.

What causes macular degeneration?

The cause of macular degeneration is not known. But it is more common in people who smoke, who are overweight, who eat an unhealthy diet or who have a condition that affects their blood vessels, like high cholesterol or diabetes.

Macular degeneration diagnosis

An optometrist or ophthalmologist will examine the back of your eyes using a special instrument. You may need to have special tests such as an angiogram of your eye.

They will also ask you to do vision tests.

Macular degeneration symptoms

The main symptom of macular degeneration is that you can’t focus on close objects. Therefore, you might:

  • have blurred vision or blind spots
  • have trouble reading small print
  • need a brighter light to do close work or read
  • have problems judging distances
  • have difficulty recognising faces
  • think colours seems less bright
  • see straight lines as wavy.

Macular degeneration treatment

There is no cure for macular degeneration, so treatment is about preventing further loss of eyesight and maintaining independence for as long as possible. It is important to prevent more damage. Medication, surgery and laser therapy might also help.

Special vitamin supplements are sometimes prescribed for macular degeneration. The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists advise that these are only beneficial for certain types of age-related macular degeneration. There is no evidence to support their use for other retinal conditions. For more information, visit the Choosing Wisely Australia website.

Macular degeneration prevention

You may be able to reduce your risk of developing macular degeneration or stop the vision loss from progressing. It helps to:

  • not smoke
  • make sure your blood pressure is normal
  • eat a diet rich in fruit, vegetables and omega-3 fats
  • wear a hat and sunglasses when exposed to sunlight
  • live a healthy life by controlling your weight and exercising regularly
  • taking antioxidant supplements under the guidance of your doctor or naturopath.

Last reviewed: December 2015

Recommended links

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 16 results

All about Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is characterised by loss of central, high acuity vision, that is, the vision that is used for tasks that require sharp focus, including reading, writing and driving, and can lead to blindness.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Eyes - age-related macular degeneration | Better Health Channel

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Learn more about eye care

Regular eye check-ups are recommended for people without eye diseases or specific risk factors

Read more on Vision Australia website

Key facts Other eye conditions Eye health workforce portal Other health conditions Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet


Read more on Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet website

Background information Reviews Eye health Other health conditions Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet


Read more on Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet website

Antioxidants: their role in health -

Antioxidants neutralise the effects of free radicals, substances that damage the body`s cells, and have a role in disease prevention.

Read more on myDr website

Learn more about common eye conditions

Understanding the most common types of vision loss This section provides information about the most common eye conditions that cause blindness and low vision

Read more on Vision Australia website

What is known about eye health? Plain language Eye health Other health conditions Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet


Read more on Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet website

What is UV? - SunSmart

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a type of radiation that is produced by the sun and some artificial sources, such as solariums. The suns UV radiation is the major cause of sunburn, premature ageing, eye damage and skin damage leading to skin cancer . However, it is also the best natural source of vitamin D.

Read more on Cancer Council Victoria website

Eyesight in children

Good eyesight is important for your child's development and learning. Knowing the signs of vision problems and what to do about it will help your child reach their full potential.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Check your symptoms Find a health service

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo