What is ARMD?

ARMD (age-related macular degeneration) is, as its name suggests, a condition more common with ageing, involving the reduction in function of a part of the back of the eye known as the macula.  This area is responsible for the detailed central region of our vision and so this complaint can have a significant effect on everyday tasks.  There are two main types :-

Dry ARMD accounts for about 90% of all cases and can lead to a gradual, untreatable, reduction in vision, which is often more pronounced for reading and close work.

Wet ARMD is less common, involving abnormal blood vessel growth at the macula.  This can progress rapidly causing significant problems with eyesight.

Risk Factors

Research has show several risk factors for developing ARMD:

Age – rarely affects people less than 50 years old
Ethnicity – can be more common in Caucasians
Family History – some people have a hereditary predisposition
Lifestyle – smokers are twice as likely to develop ARMD than non-smokers
Others – other suspected risk factors are being female and prolonged sunlight exposure


Most people first notice a distortion in their central vision.  Some people may be aware of a difficulty in recognizing faces, reading or distinguishing colours.  Others may find that straight lines, like window blinds or doorframes, look crooked.

Is ARMD treatable?

For dry ARMD, there is no specific treatment yet.  There are, however, certain things that can be done to protect and maximize the sight that you do have.  Stopping smoking, protecting the eyes from UV damage and eating a healthy balanced diet rich in anti-oxidants may be beneficial.

For wet ARMD, there are several interventions that may delay the progression of visual loss in some people.

Is ARMD preventable?

Most risk factors such as ageing, ethnicity and genetic tendency are non-preventable.  However, the role of diet has generated much interest.  Generally speaking, a healthy diet will benefit overall health, but  a diet rich in anti-oxidants may be of particular benefit to our eyes.

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