How Long Does It Take for Macular Degeneration to Progress to Vision Loss?

how long does it take for macular degeneration to progress to vision loss

Over many years, dry macular degeneration frequently advances slowly. Although less prevalent, wet macular degeneration might show signs in a matter of days.

Macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration, is a disorder that causes the macula, the centre region of your retina, to gradually deteriorate.

Most cases of macular degeneration begin in those over 50. The most prevalent kind, known as dry macular degeneration, typically manifests symptoms gradually over several years. Wet macular degeneration is a less common kind that might cause symptoms to worsen over several days.

Here, we look at the rate of advancement of macular degeneration and the factors that affect it.

How long does it take to lose vision with macular degeneration?

The unique cell layers in the back of your eyes called retinas are responsible for converting light into electrical messages. The macula is the area of your retina that is in charge of your centre vision. The macula has a diameter of around 5.5 mm or 0.22 inches.

Studies have shown that the pace at which macular degeneration progresses can range from 0 to 14 square millimetres annually.

Dry macular degeneration, the most prevalent form of the condition, often advances gradually over the years. Generally speaking, wet macular degeneration results in a faster loss of vision. Reading proficiency can be lost in a matter of days.
  • Macular degeneration advancing to geographic atrophy, a sign of advanced macular degeneration, occurred at a rate of 2.0 per 100 people per year.
  • There were 3.2 cases of macular degeneration per 100 people per year that progressed to CNV, a characteristic of advanced wet macular degeneration.

Macular degeneration differences between eyes

Although macular degeneration might appear in one eye first and then the other, about two-thirds of patients have the same level of illness in both eyes.

Using data from three different studies, a 2017 study discovered that of the 1,490 individuals with macular degeneration in one eye:
  • Over five years, macular degeneration in the other eye affects 19% to 28% of individuals.
  • Within five years, between 27 and 68 percent of individuals with late macular degeneration in one eye also had macular degeneration in the other eye.

Do you always lose your sight with macular degeneration?

Early on, macular degeneration is asymptomatic, and each person's rate of progression is different. Some never have any discernible vision loss.

Do you completely lose your sight with macular degeneration?

While macular degeneration may not always result in total blindness, as it progresses, it can cause total loss of central vision.

The stages of macular degeneration

Three stages can be distinguished in macular degeneration.

Early stage

During a dilated eye exam, an eye doctor can detect early-stage macular degeneration indicators, even though the condition doesn't create symptoms.

Intermediate stage

The disease may or may not be exhibiting symptoms at its intermediate stage. When symptoms do arise, they are often minor and consist of:
  • slight blurriness in the centre of your vision
  • difficulty seeing in dimly lit areas

Advanced stage

As the stage progresses, you could experience symptoms such as:
  • straight lines look wavy
  • blurry central vision
  • loss of night vision
  • colors seem less vibrant
  • blank spots in your central vision

Can you stop the progression of macular degeneration?

These risk factors are linked to macular degeneration:
  • increased age
  • higher body mass index (BMI)
  • eating a high-glycemic diet
  • lower levels of physical activity
  • smoking tobacco
  • certain genetic factors
  • poor nutrition
  • female sex, linked to quicker development
  • Chinese or Caucasian ethnicity, as opposed to Hispanic or African
You have little to no influence over the majority of these risk variables. However, there are a few things you may do to slow down macular degeneration's progression:
  • maintaining a Mediterranean diet, which has been associated with a lower incidence of late-stage macular degeneration
  • consuming a lot of fruits and vegetables
  • stepping up your level of physical activity
  • donning sunglasses to shield your retinas from UV rays

How is macular degeneration treated?

Treatment for early macular degeneration involves routine eye exams to monitor the illness.

If your macular degeneration is at the intermediate stage, you may be able to delay its progression using AREDS 2, a unique vitamin and mineral supplement.

The investigation into possible therapies for advanced dry macular degeneration is still ongoing. Pegcetacoplan is a novel medication that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved in 2023; however, research is still ongoing to determine its efficacy.

For late-stage wet macular degeneration, treatment choices include:
  • Photodynamic therapy is a combination of laser treatment and injection.
  • anti-VEGF injections


The investigation into possible therapies for dry macular degeneration is still ongoing. Pegcetacoplan is a medication that may help decrease its progression. Treatment options for wet macular degeneration include photodynamic treatment and anti-VEG injection.


Does macular degeneration ever stop progressing?

There's no way to reverse damage from dry macular degeneration.

Can macular degeneration get worse quickly?

Quickly over a few weeks or months ("wet AMD").

Is there any hope for macular degeneration?

For those suffering from the latter stage of dry macular degeneration, there was minimal to no chance of recovery.

How do I strengthen my macula?

A diet high in dark leafy greens, orange and yellow peppers, and other vegetables

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