Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common condition in older adults and the leading cause of vision loss in people 50 and over.

While there is no cure, there are several treatment options to manage this condition and avoid or minimize vision loss. 

Dr. Robert Wooldridge in Salt Lake City, UT, sees macular degeneration patients on a daily basis and can evaluate you for this serious condition.

What Is Macular Degeneration?

The macula is the part of the retina responsible for central vision. It allows you to read, differentiate between faces, and perceive tiny movements. Macular degeneration is a deterioration of this tissue that becomes more likely to develop as we age. The risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) can also be increased by factors such as obesity and smoking.

Symptoms of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Elderly woman struggling to read papers

While total blindness caused by AMD does not occur, the disease can cause severe loss of central vision, harming your ability to see fine details. In the early stages of AMD, you may have no symptoms at all. As the eye disease progresses, you can lose the capacity to drive, see faces, and read. 

Early treatment is important. If you have these symptoms, reach out to our doctors for an eye exam:

  • Blurred vision
  • Shadowy central vision
  • Reduced facial recognition
  • Straight lines appearing wavy
  • Blind spots in your central vision

The Two Types of AMD

Macular degeneration can be classified as either dry or wet:


Dry macular degeneration is the more common type, and is characterized by the macula becoming thinner due to retinal cells that die and are not replaced. Any changes in vision should be addressed right away to test for dry AMD and avoid progression to the more serious wet AMD. 


Wet AMD is the more dangerous form of macular degeneration. It is caused by abnormal blood vessels leaking into the retina, causing blind spots and permanent damage to central vision. It can occur very suddenly and requires rapid intervention. When it is left untreated, it can cause permanent loss of central vision.

Early Diagnosis Is Crucial

Detecting and treating macular degeneration and other serious eye conditions as early as possible can prevent permanent vision loss. Even if you are asymptomatic, Dr. Wooldridge can detect early signs of macular degeneration through a complete eye examination. 

Message Our Salt Lake City Team

One of the most common early signs of age-related macular degeneration is the appearance of yellow deposits called drusen under the retina, which can only be detected during an eye exam. If your optometrist detects this or other signs of macular degeneration, you can begin receiving treatment to protect your vision. 

It is very important to treat your AMD as soon as possible. Failing to do so can cause permanent loss of central vision. Loss of central vision is also associated with a higher risk of depression and social isolation. Let The Eye Foundation of Utah help you maintain the high quality of life you deserve through outstanding ocular healthcare. Reach out to our team today by sending us an electronic message or calling (801) 268-6408.

Dr. Woolridge

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"I'm really, really grateful for the excellent professionals who work at the Eye Foundation, starting with the high professional level, like Tiffany and Lesley at the front desk... To the doctors who treated me so promptly!  Dr. Wooldridge is the best..." Wagner, 2023

Treatment of Macular Degeneration

While there is no cure for macular degeneration, treatment options are available to help patients manage this condition and preserve their vision. The best treatment option for each patient depends on the severity and type of macular degeneration, as well as how much permanent vision loss has occurred.

Intraocular Injections

One of the greatest advancements in the treatment of eye diseases in recent years is the advent of medications that counteract Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF). Left untreated, VEGF stimulates growth of abnormal blood vessels in the retina that bleed and cause scarring, resulting in permanent loss of central vision. New Anti-VEGF medications greatly reduce the risk of permanent damage in Wet AMD, thereby preserving patients’ ability to read, drive and perform other tasks for many years. And while intraocular injections sound like a painful treatment, most patients have only mild discomfort during the procedure.

Supplements and Lifestyle Changes

A specific combination of certain vitamins and minerals known as the AREDS 2 formula, has been shown in studies sponsored by the National Eye Institute to decrease the progression of moderate to severe Dry AMD.


Two new treatments for Dry AMD have been approved recently by the FDA. These medications have been shown to slow the progression of Geographic Atrophy (GA), a form of dry AMD. To see if you are a candidate for one of these treatments, contact us for an appointment.

Risk Factors For Macular Degeneration

Everyone's risk of developing macular degeneration increases with age, but some people face a higher risk due to genetic and environmental factors, including:

  • Being female
  • Having light skin or eyes
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • High-fat diet
  • High blood pressure
  • Elevated cholesterol levels

Lifestyle changes which may slow the progression of AMD include:

  • Stop smoking (or don’t start)
  • Eat healthy foods, including leafy green vegetables and fish
  • Maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Get regular physical activity
  • See your eye doctor regularly!

Educational Resources 

You Can Use an Amsler Grid to Screen for Age-Related Macular Degeneration

While nothing beats an in-person consultation with Dr. Wooldridge, there is a way to detect some AMD symptoms at home. You can check for distortion of your vision by looking at an Amsler Grid (example pictured to the right) on a periodic basis. When self-testing, you should cover one eye and look at the grid from about one foot away. If you normally wear reading glasses, do so while testing. If any of the lines on the grid appear blurry, dim, or wavy, call our Salt Lake City practice immediately. 

Amsler Grid

Salt Lake City Recommends Dr. Wooldridge

"I have found Dr. Wooldridge and his staff to be highly professional.  Dr. Wooldridge takes time to answer my questions and he always explains my situation and options clearly and completely.  I have been in the foundation's care for over a decade now and have always been satisfied with their work." Steven, 2023
Dr. Wooldridge

The Eye Foundation of Utah

Welcome to the Eye Foundation of Utah, a team of eye care specialists led by Dr. Robert Wooldridge, OD, and Dr. Bradley J. Anderson, MD. We have proudly served Salt Lake City and the surrounding communities since 1982 with exceptional eye care. Our professional affiliations include:

  • American Academy of Optometry
  • Optometric Glaucoma Society
  • Utah Optometric Association
  • Mountain West Council of Optometrists

To schedule an appointment, please contact us online, or give us a call at: (801) 268-6408

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