The most common symptom of dry AMD is slightly blurred vision. Many people with dry AMD first notice a problem while trying to perform everyday tasks such as driving, recognizing faces, or reading the newspaper.
At the intermediate stage, a person with dry AMD may develop a small area of vision loss in the center of the visual field that can become larger or darker over time. People with advanced dry AMD see a blur or a blank spot in the center of the visual field where the tissue has thinned and lost pigment. This round, well-defined, nearly transparent spot in the center of the macula is called an area of geographic atrophy. Dry AMD generally affects both eyes, but vision can be lost in one eye while the other eye seems unaffected.
Another early sign of dry AMD is drusen, yellow deposits under the retina. They often are found in people over age 60. Your eye care professional can detect drusen during a comprehensive dilated eye exam.
Drusen alone do not usually cause vision loss. In fact, scientists are unclear about the connection between drusen and age-related macular degeneration. They do know that an increase in the size or number of drusen raises a person's risk of developing either advanced dry AMD or wet AMD. These changes can cause serious vision loss.
Dry AMD has three stages, all of which may occur in one or both eyes:
People with early AMD have either several small drusen or a few medium-sized drusen. At this stage, there are no symptoms and no vision loss.
People with intermediate AMD have either many medium-sized drusen or one or more large drusen. Some people see a blurred spot in the center of their vision. More light may be needed for reading and other tasks.
Advanced Dry AMD:
In addition to drusen, people with advanced dry AMD have a breakdown of light-sensitive cells and supporting tissue in the central retinal area. This breakdown can cause a blurred spot in the center of your vision. Over time, the blurred spot may get bigger and darker, taking more of your central vision. You may have difficulty reading or recognizing faces until they are very close to you.