What do you do after you're diagnosed with Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
What is AMD?
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common condition that affects the middle part of your vision. It usually first affects people in their 50s and 60s.
It doesn't cause total blindness. But it can make everyday activities like reading and recognising faces difficult.
Without treatment, your vision may get worse. This can happen gradually over several years ("dry AMD"), or quickly over a few weeks or months ("wet AMD").
The exact cause is unknown. It's been linked to smoking, high blood pressure, being overweight and having a family history of AMD.
What happens at your optician's appointment
When you arrive, you'll be seen by a specialist called an optometrist. They'll use a magnifying glass with a light to look at the back of your eyes and check your vision. They may put drops in your eyes to make it easier for them to spot any problems. These can make your vision blurry for a few hours.
Don't drive until your vision goes back to normal. This may take 4 to 6 hours. Sometimes you may be referred to an eye doctor or specialist AMD service. This is usually only necessary if there's a possibility you'll need to start treatment quickly. You should be referred within a day.
What happens if you're diagnosed with AMD
If you're diagnosed, the specialist will talk to you about what it is, what type you have and what treatment options are available.
Tips for living with low vision & AMD
If you have poor vision in both eyes, your specialist may refer you for a type of training called eccentric viewing training. To help vision some customers use products like this:
- magnifying lenses to read
- brighter lighting at home
- software and mobile apps that can make computers and phones easier to use
This involves learning techniques that help make the most of your remaining vision. It is also important to stay healthy, eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and avoid things like smoking and being overweight. There's also some evidence to suggest that certain health supplements might help stop AMD from getting worse, but this is not definitive.
AMD can make it unsafe for you to drive. Ask your specialist if they think you should stop driving.
You're required by law to tell DVLA about your condition if:
- it affects both eyes
- it only affects one eye but your remaining vision is below the minimum standards of vision for driving
Monitoring and check-ups
You'll have regular check-ups with a specialist to monitor your condition. Contact your specialist as soon as possible if your vision gets worse or you notice any new symptoms. Keep having routine eye tests (usually every 2 years). They can pick up other eye problems that your check-ups do not look for.
Registering as sight impaired
If your vision continues to get worse, you may want to consider registering your sight loss. This can make it easier to claim financial benefits, such as help with health costs. Your specialist can check your vision and complete an official certificate if you meet the requirements to be registered.