People who have age-related macular degeneration (AMD) may find everyday activities difficult to do. Getting treatment for your AMD and using low-vision aids can help you make the most of your remaining vision.
As you learn to do things differently, you can become more independent. Through patience and determination, you can continue to enjoy a full and productive life.
From Dependence to Independence
With AMD, the extent of vision loss varies from patient to patient. Each person’s rehabilitation depends on the amount of help needed. Here are some ways you can take charge of your vision and eye health:
- Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance.
- Be clear about your wants and needs
- Try to stay positive and take on challenges as they arise.
Maintaining Vision with Macular Degeneration: Treatments
Although there is no cure for AMD, treatments focus on stopping or slowing further vision loss. Learn more about treatments and drugs for macular degeneration.
Low-Vision Aids for People with Macular Degeneration
People with AMD can improve their quality of life through the use of low-vision aids and other products and services. Review our helpful resources on housing, benefits, home safety, low-vision aids, caregiving, and more.
Protecting Your Vision in the Sun
All people—especially those who already have eye problems—should protect their eyes from the ultraviolet (UV) light in sunshine. UV light is what causes sunburn, and it is also known to contribute to cataracts and macular degeneration.
Since the effects are cumulative, the more exposed your eyes are to UV rays, the higher the risk of damage to the cornea, retina, and lens becomes. The thinning of the Earth’s ozone layer has reduced its function as a UV filter, so it is now more dangerous than ever to eyes (and skin) to spend unprotected hours in the sun.
Here are some suggestions for ways to protect your eyes from the sun:
- Wear high-quality sunglasses that block 98 to 100 percent UVA and UVB protection and screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light. Check the label when buying nonprescription lenses. Those that meet these minimum standards established by the American Optometric Association (AOA) can use the AOA seal of acceptance.
- If you aren’t sure about the quality of your sunglasses, ask your optometrist or optician to check their protection level.
- If you purchase prescription lenses, be sure to ask about including protection (which can be colorless) against UV radiation.
- Contact lenses may provide some protection but only to the part of the eye that they actually cover, so you should still wear sunglasses.
- Gray-colored lenses provide the most natural colors, while lenses tinted amber may boost your vision a bit by creating greater contrast.
- However, amber lenses can also make it harder to distinguish traffic-light colors, which may make gray lenses a better choice for some people.
- Large lenses are better than small ones, and wraparound lenses are even better, since UV rays can enter the eyeball from the sides, above, and below.
- Polarized lenses can reduce glare, but make sure that they are coated to make them UV-protective as well.
- Mirrored lenses don’t necessarily block UV light, so make sure they are marked as UV-protective.
- Clouds don’t block ultraviolet light, so wear your sunglasses even on cloudy or overcast days.
- Eye protection is especially important at the beach or in snow:
- Water and sand reflect and thus increase the intensity of UV rays from 10 to 20 percent, while snow can reflect up to 80 percent.
- Forty percent of UV rays can be detected two feet below the surface of water.
- Children and teens should wear sunglasses, too, especially since they may spend more time in the sun and sun damage to eyes (and skin) is cumulative over time. It’s estimated that more than three-quarters of our exposure to UV rays occurs before the age of 18.