Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about age-related macular degeneration. If you have unanswered questions about AMD or vision research, please contact our patient inquiry services at email@example.com or by calling 1-800-461-3331.If you want to support this service, please consider making an online donation to the FFB.
Will AMD cause total blindness?
No. Although AMD is a leading cause of vision loss, and some people with AMD become "legally blind," most of them will keep their peripheral vision. This allows them to stay active, mobile and independent.
At what rate will I experience vision loss?
The rate at which AMD causes vision loss varies greatly. Sometimes the disease advances so slowly that it will have little effect on your vision as you age. In others, the disease progresses more quickly, and may lead to vision loss in one or both eyes. Wet AMD tends to progress more rapidly than the dry form.
Are cataracts associated with AMD?
A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye. It is not uncommon for an older individual with AMD also to develop cataracts, simply because both conditions are more common in older people. Cataracts that significantly interfere with vision can be surgically removed. While cataract surgery can restore vision loss due to the cataract, it does not improve vision loss caused by AMD.
If AMD is incurable, what good are check-ups?
Having your eyes checked regularly is an essential part of your personal health care program. For those with wet AMD vision loss can occur rapidly, so regular check-ups are essential to ensure that you are benefitting from the treatments that are available. Wet AMD although not curable, is certainly treatable. For those with dry AMD, regular check-ups will allow early detection and diagnosis of wet AMD, and other eye diseases that might further impair your vision. Your ophthalmologist will also keep you informed of the latest developments in treatment as they emerge.
Will AMD affect my ability to drive?
Many people with mild forms of AMD continue to drive legally and without any difficulty. For others, however, this is not the case. Vision loss should be discussed with a physician, who can assess whether your visual function passes legal standards.
Many people equate driving with independence. It is often hard for people to acknowledge that they have a visual impairment, and that it affects their driving skills. It is important to remember that your ability to operate a motor vehicle safely impacts not only you, but also pedestrians and other drivers and their passengers. Decisions about the right to drive must be made in consideration of all.
Will AMD affect my daily living?
There is no question that vision loss does affect people's daily activities and that many people with AMD need to adapt their activities as their vision changes. You may need the people around you to help sometimes, whether that help takes the form of reading difficult print - or a ride to the grocery store. Some people with AMD find it difficult others to ask for help - but ultimately all of us must rely on others at some point in our lives.
There are aids available to help people with AMD manage daily life tasks more independently. Non-optical aids include audiotapes and large-print books, magazines and newspapers. Optical aids that may help improve vision include Corning and Noir glasses, telescopes and magnifiers.
Electronic aids include closed-circuit television (CCTV), reading machines, and talking computers. More and more sophisticated computer programs are making it easy to enlarge the typeface or provide an audio version of what appears on the monitor. Advances in technology continue to create new opportunities for people with AMD to maximize the use of their remaining vision.
For more information about the services available to you, contact your local CNIB
I have heard that smokers should not take vitamins to prevent AMD? Is this true?
The AREDS formulation has been shown to reduce the risk that a person with dry AMD will develop more severe vision loss. (Learn more here
). This combination of vitamins and nutrients contains beta-carotene, a nutrient that is converted in our bodies to substances essential to vision. Studies have shown that large doses of beta-caroteen increase the risk that heavy smokers (and asbestos workers) will develop lung cancer [1
] However, there is no evidence that beta-carotene increase the risk of any kind of cancer for non-smokers. If you are considering taking the AREDS formulation, talk to your doctor, who can help you weigh the risks and benefits for you.
Updated: September 15, 2010. This section has been reviewed by Dr. Peter Kertes, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences at the University of Toronto and Dr. William Stell, FFB Director of Research Programs and Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Calgary.
1. Druesne-Pecollo N, et al. Beta-carotene supplementation and cancer risk: a systematic review and metaanalysis of randomized controlled trials. Int J Cancer. 2010 Jul 1;127(1):172-84