Age-Related Macular Degeneration Signs & Symptoms

In most cases, AMD produces no symptoms. When symptoms do occur in people with non-neovascular AMD, they develop gradually.

In people with neovascular AMD, however, symptoms can be severe and may occur in a matter of days or weeks. Symptoms of AMD include a grayness, haziness, or blank spot in central vision. Words on a page may be blurred, straight lines may appear to have a kink in them, and objects may seem smaller than they are. Color vision may become dimmer, because the receptors that distinguish colors (cones) are most dense in the fovea.

People can monitor themselves for AMD-related vision changes using an Amsler grid—a diagram of a box that is subdivided into many smaller boxes. To use an Amsler grid, hold it at reading distance, fix one eye on its center, and cover the other eye.

Minor blurring or wavy or distorted lines may indicate AMD. People with more advanced cases of AMD will notice gray areas or blind spots around the center of the grid as well as more marked distortion.

However, the Amsler grid alone is not a reliable indicator of AMD and more effective screening devices are in development. Monitoring your vision, one eye at a time, during normal activities such as reading, watching television, or using the computer also is important.

Publication Review By: Susan B. Bressler, M.D., Harry A. Quigley, M.D., Oliver D. Schein, M.D., M.P.H.

Published: 02 Mar 2011

Last Modified: 27 Jan 2015