AMD Awareness Month sheds light on the leading cause of severe vision loss in older adults

Tuesday February 9, 2021

AMD Awareness Month sheds light on the leading cause of severe vision loss in older adults

Age-related macular degeneration primarily affects those over age 60, but genetics and other risk factors play a role

TORONTO, February 9, 2021 — Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the most common eye diseases to cause vision loss after age 60, affecting nearly 2 million Canadians and accounting for 90 per cent of new cases of legal blindness in the country, according to the Canadian Ophthalmological Society.

AMD affects the central vision and occurs when cells in the macula – a small area of the retina at the back of the eye – break down or deteriorate. While peripheral vision is not affected, one loses the sharp, straight-ahead vision that is necessary for driving, reading, recognizing faces, and looking at fine detail.  

“Early on, there may not be any noticeable vision loss from age-related macular degeneration, especially if only one eye is affected, but your eye doctor can spot the most common signs before it gets worse,” says Dr. Colin Mann, President of the Canadian Ophthalmological Society. “With treatment, we can delay the progression and prevent further vision loss in about 90 per cent of cases, so it’s critical to have comprehensive eye exams at least once a year, particularly the older you are.”

While age is the biggest factor, the causes of macular degeneration include genetics and a mixture of other health and environmental factors. Particularly at risk are those with blue eyes, heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Smokers, people who are overweight or have a family history of the disease may also be more likely to develop AMD.  

Depending on which type of age-related macular degeneration someone has, vision loss either happens slowly or quickly. Nine out of 10 people with AMD have the atrophic or ‘Dry’ type, which usually progresses slowly over many years. On the other hand, ‘Wet’ AMD is less common but more serious, and can lead to vision loss quickly. Delays can result in poorer outcomes, so treating Wet AMD is time-sensitive.

Symptoms of AMD

In advanced stages, the more common symptoms of macular degeneration may include:

Early AMD changes can be detected at home by checking your vision in each eye with the use of an Amsler grid.


While there’s no treatment for Dry AMD yet, a high-dose vitamin regimen has been shown to reduce the rate of which people with advanced dry macular degeneration develop Wet AMD, and there are several promising drugs are undergoing clinical trials. Wet AMD is more rare, and is most commonly treated through injections directly into the eye with drugs that are very effective at causing the abnormal blood vessels to stop growing and leaking. The frequency of injections taper off after an initial period but lifelong treatment is required to prevent recurrence and vision loss.

Learn more about AMD, or one of the other four serious eye diseases, by visiting

About Canadian Ophthalmological Society

The Canadian Ophthalmological Society (COS) is the national, recognized authority on eye and vision care in Canada. As eye physicians and surgeons, we are committed to assuring the provision of optimal medical and surgical eye care for all Canadians by promoting excellence in ophthalmology and by providing services to support our members in practice. Our membership includes over 900 ophthalmologists and 200 ophthalmology residents. We work collaboratively with government, other national and international specialty societies, our academic communities (ACUPO), our provincial partners and affiliates and other eye care professionals and patient groups to advocate for health policy in Canada in the area of eye and vision health. COS is an accredited, award-winning provider of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) through the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) and is an affiliate of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA). For more information, visit

For more information, please contact:

Elizabeth Glassen, [email protected], 647.309.0141, BlueSky Communications