Living with macular degeneration
Getting help with macular degeneration – also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – can make a big difference if you’re living with the condition. Nearly 1.5 million people have macular disease in the UK, so you’re not alone (Source: Macular Society).
As your central vision will be affected, you may need to change how you do things or ask for help. This can be frustrating and take time to adjust to, but you can still do the things you enjoy as independently as possible with the right support.
Read on to hear about the many aids, services and tools that make daily living easier if you have AMD.
Managing life with macular degeneration
Early signs of macular degeneration include trouble seeing details, a blurred area in your vision, and seeing straight lines as wavy or bumpy. Life with AMD can vary depending on whether you're diagnosed with the dry or wet form of the condition.
Macular degeneration and driving
Because macular degeneration affects the central vision we use when looking straight ahead and can cause blind spots, many people worry about driving with the condition. Being diagnosed with AMD doesn't in itself rule out driving, but you'll need to speak to your eye doctor about your eyesight and whether it's still good enough to drive.
As the condition progresses, you may lose more of your central vision. It can help to be prepared and think about your other options for travelling before you can no longer drive. Explore public transport options near you and alternatives such as taxis.
Diet and macular degeneration
There’s no strict recommended diet for macular degeneration but having plenty of foods with omega-3 fatty acids (like oily fish, nuts, and seeds) is good for your general health – including your eyes.
Certain antioxidants contribute to eye health too. For AMD, antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E and carotenoids (pigments from yellow plants) are helpful. Good foods to have in your diet include green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale or orange and yellow food like sweetcorn and peppers.
Smoking and macular degeneration
Smoking is one of the risk factors for developing AMD. Smoking affects the blood vessels in the eyes and can increase blood pressure. If you want help to quit smoking, the NHS has various resources, or you can speak to your GP.
Living independently with macular degeneration
Macular degeneration can make it harder to see clearly as the eye condition progresses. Though it doesn’t cause total blindness (because it doesn’t affect side vision), it can have a significant impact on daily life. There are many things to help you cope with central vision loss, from tips and products to support and services that help you be as independent as possible and continue having a good quality of life.
Practical tips for coping with macular degeneration
- Make sure your home has plenty of bright and even lighting. Everyone needs more light to see clearly as they age, more so if living with AMD. Choose particularly good lighting for close-up tasks and reading.
- Aids like magnifiers help with seeing details, and your local low vision services may be able to loan these to you. Glasses such as sunglasses with UV and blue light blocking filters can help protect your eyes. Some simple, low-tech solutions, such as choosing a phone with large numbers and stickers with large print for keyboards, can also make life easier.
- There’s lots of great everyday technology that can be useful. You can read books, newspapers, and magazines on e-readers and tablets in large text. Computers and phones can read your messages out loud. You can also get clever tech such as talking microwaves and weighing scales.
- Contact us to find out about services and support tailored to your individual needs. Your specialist can also refer you to a low vision clinic with low vision specialists who can offer expert advice. Depending on the progression of your sight loss, you may also find it helpful to contact social services. They can help with mobility and staying safe at home or may be able to put you in touch with a Sensory Impairment Team and occupational therapists.
- If your AMD progresses, you may also want to consider becoming registered as sight impaired or severely sight impaired. This can make you eligible for further support and benefits to alleviate some of the worry and expense that comes with worsening vision. Your specialist can complete a certificate if you meet the requirements.
Frequently asked questions
Get in touch
You can contact us to find out about services and support tailored to your individual needs.
The Royal College of Ophthalmologists champions excellence in the practice of ophthalmology and is the only professional membership body for medically qualified ophthalmologists. The RCOphth is unable to offer direct advice to patients. If you’re concerned about the health of your eyes, you should seek medical advice from your GP, optometrist or ophthalmologist.