Macular Degeneration

What is Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration (or age-related macular degeneration, AMD) is an eye disorder that affects many people.  This eye condition affects your central vision and can often lead to blindness.  It occurs due to deterioration of the macula (an area in the center of your retina at the back of your eye).  This article will present the common symptoms and causes of macular degeneration, as well as treatment options including Chinese Medicine.

Macular Degeneration Symptoms:

There are two types of macular degeneration: wet and dry.  Most people with the condition have dry macular degeneration, while a smaller percentage have wet macular degeneration.  While both types of the condition get worse over time, wet macular degeneration tends to worsen more quickly than dry macular degeneration.

Common symptoms of dry macular degeneration include:

  • Reduced central vision
  • Trouble recognizing faces
  • Blurriness
  • Distortion of straight lines
  • Need for brighter lighting

Reduced central vision and visual distortions may also occur if you have wet macular degeneration.  However, wet macular degeneration may also cause symptoms like:

  • A dark or blurry spot in the center of your vision
  • Rapidly worsening symptoms

What Causes Macular Degeneration?

Both wet and dry macular degeneration occurs due to damage to the macula.  But while dry macular degeneration involves small yellow deposits (called drusen) developing under the macula, wet macular degeneration involves the development of abnormal blood vessels under the macula or retina.  If you have a condition like heart disease, high cholesterol, or if you’re obese/overweight, you may be more likely to get macular degeneration.  You may also be more at risk if you’re over 55 years old, have a family history of the disorder, or if you smoke.

Macular Degeneration Treatment

It’s important to get your eyes checked every year because an early diagnosis often means you can start treatment earlier.  Typical treatments for macular degeneration usually work by slowing down the progression of the disease.  Working with a low-vision rehabilitation specialist may be recommended for both dry and wet macular degeneration patients.  

If you have wet macular degeneration, you may be prescribed medications called anti-vascular endothelial growth factors (anti-VEGF drugs).  These medications can stop new blood vessels from growing under your macula.  You can also treat wet macular degeneration with photodynamic therapy and photocoagulation, but these options are less common now.  To treat dry macular degeneration, surgery may be an option in rare cases.

Other treatment options could include supplements like vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc.  Regular exercise, maintaining healthy body weight, avoiding smoking, and consuming a nutritious diet of whole foods may even help to prevent you from developing macular degeneration in the first place.

How Can Chinese Medicine Help?

If you have macular degeneration and need more help to treat it, Chinese Medicine could be for you.  In Chinese Medicine, health problems like macular degeneration are treated from the root cause.  Often, the organs in our body get weak or out of balance with each other.  For example, if your liver is weak, this may lead to nerve problems, joint problems, or even eye problems like macular degeneration.  Chinese Medicine practitioners can promote healing in organs like the liver, which may help to restore balance in the body.  Naturally, if the cause of the health problem is addressed, the body can heal itself which may allow your symptoms to fade away.


Overall, macular degeneration is an eye condition that can cause blindness.  The symptoms of this disease may vary depending on whether you have wet macular degeneration or dry macular degeneration.  However, both types of conditions are caused by damage to the macula.  Common treatments for macular degeneration include seeing a low-vision rehabilitation specialist, taking certain medications and supplements, or even surgery in rare cases.  These treatments cannot cure the condition but aim to reduce the symptoms and slow down the disease.  In contrast, Chinese Medicine can treat macular degeneration from the root cause, which may be an underlying imbalance in the body.  This focuses on facilitating the body to heal itself, through techniques like acupuncture.


Higuera, V. (2022, February 7). Macular Degeneration. Healthline.

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