How Quickly Does Vision Loss Happen with Macular Degeneration?

Posted on Sunday, July 31st, 2022 by Dr. Binoy Jani

Macular Degeneration Virginia

Being diagnosed with any eye disease — including age-related macular degeneration or ARMD — can bring up serious uncertainties about the future. Many ARMD patients are worried about how quickly their vision will be affected. The macular degeneration specialists at Vista Eye Specialists are often asked about ARMD’s timeline, from initial diagnosis to vision loss.

Every patient’s ARMD experience is slightly different, with some losing vision slowly and others experiencing the consequences of the disease more rapidly. The type of macular degeneration usually determines the rate of progression.

Dry and Wet Macular Degeneration

The earlier, less-serious form of the disease is known as “dry” macular degeneration. In cases of dry ARMD, yellow deposits (drusen) are detected on the retina. Small drusen are a normal part of aging, but in dry ARMD, the drusen grow in size and number. This form of the disease advances very slowly, and someone with dry macular degeneration may experience little, if any, effect on vision.

Dry macular degeneration may progress to the “wet” form of the disease. In cases of wet macular degeneration, irregular blood vessels begin to grow and even leak under the retina. This causes swelling and other complications. Wet ARMD progresses faster than dry ARMD, and someone with the advanced form of the disease is more likely to notice visual impairment such as a decline in visual clarity, blank spots in central vision and visual distortions.

What Type of Vision Loss Happens with ARMD?

Since the macula is responsible for central vision, ARMD can affect the ability to drive, recognize faces and read fine print. ARMD does not affect side (peripheral) vision. Someone with ARMD generally retains their peripheral vision even if central vision loss occurs.

Slowing Vision Loss

If diagnosed, there is currently no way to cure macular degeneration. However, there are steps you can take to slow the disease’s progression, particularly if you are diagnosed during the early “dry” stage of the disease. We recommend the following:

  • See our eye doctors for routine exams to track changes to your vision and eye’s internal structures.
  • Take nutritional supplements as recommended by our team. Supplements containing the AREDS or AREDS2 formulation have been scientifically shown to slow or stave off the progression of ARMD.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Eat nutritious, eye-friendly foods such as green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits and fatty fish.
  • Exercise regularly.

Comprehensive Care for Dry and Wet ARMD

The macular degeneration experts at Vista Eye Specialists provide comprehensive care for patients with ARMD and other diseases affecting the retina. If you have been diagnosed with ARMD or experience symptoms consistent with the disease, please contact our team today and request a consultation.