No set age. Age-related macular degeneration (armd) is a condition that usually affects individuals over the age of 50 and causes central vision loss. It is more common the older we get (likely because it becomes more noticeable) and has a peak in the 70s. It can be seen at earlier ages in some individuals, and the the age of onset will be younger as we get better at testing for it.
Over 50. By definition, age related macular degeneration is diagnosed if the patient is at least age 50 years old, and has typical macular findings. Individuals with a family history of amd are advised to have regular eye exams beginning at age 50 to look for signs, and start vitamin supplementation if appropriate.
Depends. Most people experience distortion in the central vision as an early sign of age-related macular degeneration. There is a self-screening tool called an amsler grid that is often recommended for people with risk factors for the disease. It can help to detect early distortion. Decreased central vision with difficulty to read, recognize faces, watch tv, and drive often happen as the disease progresses.
Yes. While often overlooked and not talked about much, perhaps the earliest sign of macular degeneration (amd) is delayed adjustment from bright to dim light ("delayed photostress recovery"). Many patients with signs of amd on examination and nearly perfect vision will report that they have noticed that it takes longer so see things when coming from bright into dim light surroundings.
Frequent in elderly. There are a few rare macular degeneration (md) cases in the young but most md is in the elderly. Vision changes can be from minor to severe depending upon the individual. The frequency increases with age up to about 17% affected in those over age 90. If you or a family member/friend has this problem, they should see a retinal specialist for evaluation and possible treatment.
Fairly common. Macular degeneration was the most common cause of legal blindness in individuals over 50. With modern treatment strategies, severe vision loss is much less common, but updated statistics do not yet exist. Some degree of vision impairment usually develops with this chronic degenerative disease over time. The earliest symptoms include delay in adjusting to dim light ; needing more light to read.