ARMD is an eye condition that affects the central part of your vision. It is caused by damage to the macular region of the eye, which is the part of the retina that provides you with detailed and clear central vision. This may cause objects in the centre of vision to become difficult to see or blurry. You may also notice that straight lines, such as door frames, start to look wavy or distorted. Peripheral vision (your vision to the side and edges) should not be affected by ARMD.
This is now the leading cause of severe vision loss in adults over the age of 50 and affects more than 600,000 people in the UK. It’s predicted by 2020 almost 700,000 people will have late-stage ARMD in the UK. 
There are two main types of ARMD; Dry and Wet.
Dry ARMD progresses slowly and may be referred to as wear and tear. It develops when the cells of the macula become damaged by a build-up of deposits called drusen (fatty proteins). Approximately 90% of AMD cases are classified as dry . In fact, many people are unaware they have ARMD, since dry ARMD is usually mild or free of symptoms. As the condition develops, it can cause increased blurring in the central vision and causes difficulty recognising faces, reading things directly in front of you as well as colours appearing less vibrant.
Wet ARMD is a condition which involves an unexpected growth of abnormal blood vessels behind the retina. These blood vessels can begin to leak and damage the cells in the macula region, preventing them from working. This is the most severe form of ARMD and causes distorted vision with straight lines and edges appearing wavy. Sometimes these changes can occur suddenly.
If you notice a sudden onset of these symptoms, you should see an optometrist urgently.
All these symptoms are more noticeable if you look for them with one eye closed at a time, because, if you have both eyes open, the better eye may compensate for the other one.
Your likelihood of developing ARMD increases with the following:
- Age – The disease is more common in people over 65.
- Smoking – Current smokers have a two-to-three times higher risk of developing ARMD than people who have never smoked. So, stopping smoking is the best way to help protect yourself from ARMD.
- Family history –if you have a parent, child or sibling with ARMD, studies have shown your chances of developing the condition are three-to-four times higher.
- Ultra Violet – UV light may increase the risk of ARMD. This can be prevented by wearing sunglasses that block or absorb harmful light.
- Poor Diet – A diet which is low in fruit and vegetables may increase the risk of developing ARMD. Antioxidants and other substances in fruit and vegetables protect the body against the effect of ‘free radicals’. These are unstable molecules that damage cells or prevent cell repair.
If ARMD is picked up during an eye test, your optometrist will advise that you attend an annual eye test, where they will monitor your vision to check for changes. They will provide you with an amsler grid for you to monitor your vision and report any changes. Furthermore, if you are a smoker they will provide information and support to help you stop and recommend a healthy diet and regular exercise. They will also advise you to wear a hat with a brim and to wear sunglasses to shade eyes from direct sunlight.
A referral to an ophthalmologist for further diagnostic tests may be required for progressing dry ARMD. If signs of Wet ARMD are visible, there is usually a special pathway into the hospital for urgent treatment.
ARMD diagnosis, monitoring and treatment can be provided by the NHS or privately. Some private companies, like eCare Medical Eye Services, are now offering monthly payment plans: to ensure private, regular on-going and frequent monitoring for ARMD. This is affordable, costs are transparent, the care is accessible, as well as ensuring the timely management of the condition to protect against further damage.
Private Medical Insurance (PMI) and self-funding care for ARMD treatment is available across a number of providers, including our eCare Medical Eye Centres.
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or call our patient services team.
 ‘Macular Degeneration’ (NHS, 24 August 2015) <https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/macular-degeneration/>accessed 12 January 2018
 J Thornton and others, ‘Smoking and age-related macular degeneration: a review of association’ (2005) 19 Nature Publishing Group 935, 939 <https://www.nature.com/articles/6701978.pdf?origin=ppub>accessed 12 January 2018