Age-Related Macular Degeneration: Care Instructions

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Anatomy of the eye

Your Care Instructions

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease. It can happen to people as they get older.

AMD damages a part of your eye called the macula. The macula is the center part of your retina. It gives you clear vision so you can focus on what is in front of you.

With AMD, your vision may be fuzzy. Straight lines may look curvy. You may also have a dark spot in the center of your field of vision. Over time, you may lose more of your front vision.

Your doctor may give you a special chart called an Amsler grid to check your vision. If you use it regularly, you can watch for changes in your vision.

When changes are found early, treatments can help prevent more vision loss. These may include therapy, surgery, or medicine.

Your doctor may suggest a vitamin and mineral supplement to help slow the disease.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • If your doctor gave you an Amsler grid, use it to check your vision in each eye. If any of the lines change or look wavy and curved, call your doctor. And if your vision gets worse, call your doctor.
  • Wear sunglasses. Buy ones that protect you from ultraviolet A and B (UVA and UVB) rays.
  • Include plenty of fresh fruits and dark green, leafy vegetables (such as spinach and collard greens) in your diet. Your doctor may also want you to take a vitamin and mineral supplement.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking can make this condition worse. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
  • Try these tips to make your life at home easier and safer:
    • Point lighting at what you want to see and away from your eyes. Add lamps in dark places.
    • Prevent falls by making sure there is plenty of light in entries and stairs. You may also want to mark these areas with paint or tape so you can easily see them.
    • Make your light switches easier to see. Use dark switch plates on light walls and light ones on dark walls. You can also use switches that glow.
    • Use paint or tape to mark electrical outlets, thermostats, and other items you need to find.
    • Use bold black letters to make labels, signs, and other markings. Label your medicines clearly.
    • Use a magnifier to help you read. Or choose large-print books. If you still need help, ask your doctor about other vision aids.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You have new or worse vision changes.
  • You check your vision with an Amsler grid, and the lines look different than before.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.