Macular Degeneration with Supplements. Preserve Your Sight.

Updated: 10/24/23

As we get older, our health inevitably starts to decline. One condition that can have a tremendous impact on your quality of life is macular degeneration. This common eye disease develops when the center portion of the retina gradually deteriorates and results in central vision loss. If you’re age 50 or above – or have a family history of this disease – there are several supplements available you can take to help reduce your risk and protect your vision from further deterioration caused by macular degeneration. Read on for more information about how these supplements may benefit you now and into the future!

What Macular Degeneration (AMD)?

Macular degeneration is an eye condition that leads to the deterioration of the macula, which is the small central part of the retina in the eye. This part of the eye is responsible for sharp, detailed vision, and the ability to read, drive, and recognize faces. With macular degeneration, the macula becomes damaged, leading to blurred and distorted vision. There are two types of macular degeneration– the dry form, which accounts for about 85% of cases, and the wet form, which is a more severe form of the disease.

Macular degeneration differs from complete blindness in the sense that it does not obstruct peripheral vision. According to studies, over 10 million people in the United States currently live with macular vision. Researchers also consider it the leading cause of blindness because the condition worsens over time. Currently, there is no cure for AMD. However, patients can control the condition with a wide range of treatments including laser therapy and medications.

Signs of Macular Degeneration

The main signs of AMD are changes in vision. An eye care specialist may notice them before the patient is aware of them. The patient may have blurred vision, difficulty seeing details in low light or hypersensitivity to glare. The patient may also have trouble seeing lines on printed pages and straight lines may look wavy or blurry.

Blurred or Hazy Vision

One of the most common signs of macular degeneration is blurry or hazy vision that makes it difficult for you to read, drive, or see details, especially in low light conditions. If you notice that your vision has become hazier than usual, it may be a sign that your macula is affected. Blurry vision can occur in one or both eyes.

Dark or Blank Spots in Your Vision

Another sign of macular degeneration is the presence of dark or blank spots in your vision, which can make it challenging to see or recognize faces, read, or watch TV. These spots can appear on the center or sides of your vision and can be of varying shapes and sizes.

Difficulty Seeing in Low Light

If you find it challenging to see in low light conditions, or if you notice that your eyes are taking more time than usual to adjust to dark or dim environments, this could be a sign of macular degeneration. This may also lead to increased sensitivity to bright light or glare.

Distorted Vision or Straight Lines Appearing Wavy

Another sign of macular degeneration is distorted vision or straight lines appearing wavy or curved. This can be a result of fluid buildup or bleeding in the back of the eye, which can lead to swelling and damage to the macula.

Sensitivity to Light

People with macular degeneration may experience sensitivity to light, making it hard to see in bright sunlight or when looking at bright lights. This sensitivity can cause discomfort and make it hard to see fine details in your surroundings.

Visual Hallucinations

In some cases, people with advanced macular degeneration may experience visual hallucinations. These hallucinations can be complex and may involve seeing patterns, people, or objects that aren’t there. While visual hallucinations are uncommon, if you start experiencing them, you should see an eye doctor right away.

Changes in the Color Perception

Macular degeneration can also cause changes in the color vision, making it difficult to distinguish between certain color shades or hues. You may notice that colors appear faded or duller than usual.

Types of Macular Degeneration     

Researchers have identified two types of macular degeneration: atrophic (“dry”) and exudative (“wet”). There is also another form of the condition called Stargardt disease.

Wet Macular Degeneration

Wet macular degeneration, also known as neovascular or exudative macular degeneration, is a type of macular degeneration that occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina. This growth can cause blood and fluid to leak, which can damage the macula and cause vision loss. Symptoms include distorted or blurry vision, and straight lines may appear wavy. Wet macular degeneration is the less common type and typically affects individuals over the age of 50. Anti-VEGF injections are the standard treatment for wet macular degeneration.

Dry Macular Degeneration

Dry macular degeneration, also known as atrophic macular degeneration, is a common type of macular degeneration and can occur due to aging. It happens when the macula gradually thins and eventually breaks down. Symptoms include difficulty reading, seeing in dim light, and the need for brighter lighting while reading or working. Unfortunately, there is no cure for dry macular degeneration, but taking vitamin supplements and making lifestyle changes may help slow its progression.

Stargardt’s Disease

Stargardt’s disease is a rare inherited type of macular degeneration that affects children and young adults. It happens when a genetic defect causes toxic waste build-up in the retina, leading to vision loss. Symptoms, such as difficulty reading or seeing in dim light, typically begin in childhood or early adulthood. There is no cure for Stargardt’s disease, but some treatments may help provide relief and prevent further vision loss.

Geographic Atrophy

Geographic atrophy is a type of dry macular degeneration that occurs when large areas of the macula waste away, leading to vision loss. It can happen due to aging or genetic factors and typically affects individuals over the age of 50. Early symptoms may include a loss of contrast or clarity, but as the disease progresses, central vision loss occurs. There is no cure for geographic atrophy, but there are treatments that may help slow its progression.

Myopic Macular Degeneration

Myopic macular degeneration is a type of macular degeneration that affects people with nearsightedness, or myopia. Individuals with this condition have a longer eyeball, which can cause the retina to stretch, leading to damage and vision loss. Symptoms typically appear in the mid to late-20s and may include difficulty seeing in low light, distortion, and blind spots. There is no cure for Myopic macular degeneration, but treatments can help slow its progression.

Stages of Macular Degeneration     

Researchers have identified three stages of AMD. Researchers define these stages by the patient’s vision and the amount of drusen beneath the retina. Drusen are tissue deposits from the retina made up of lipid proteins. It does not cause AMD, but large amounts of it plays a role in how the condition progresses.

Early Stage

In the early stages, the patient has medium-sized drusen deposits. At this stage, there are usually no noticeable symptoms, and vision is normal. In some cases, people may experience slight blurring or distortion of vision, but this is often overlooked as a part of the aging process. The only way to detect early-stage macular degeneration is through a comprehensive eye exam, including an OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography) scan.

Intermediate Stage

In intermediate stages, the drusen become larger and more numerous, and there may be some pigment changes in the retina. Symptoms may include blurred or distorted central vision, difficulty reading or driving, and needing more light for reading or close work. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is crucial to see an eye doctor right away for a comprehensive eye exam.

Late Stage 

Along with large drusen deposits, the late stage also causes significant damage to the macula and noticeable vision loss. In this stage, physicians categorize the condition as atrophic (“dry”) or exudative (“wet”). Physicians also state that dry AMD progress much faster than wet AMD.

There are two types of late-stage macular degeneration: dry and wet. Dry macular degeneration occurs when the light-sensitive cells in the macula break down, causing vision loss. Wet macular degeneration involves the growth of abnormal blood vessels under the macula, which leak blood and fluid, causing scarring and permanent damage to the retina. Symptoms of late-stage macular degeneration include blind spots, distorted vision, and difficulty with daily activities such as reading, driving, or recognizing faces.

Risk Factors for Macular Degeneration 

Because the condition is complex, there are no clear cause of macular degeneration. However, researchers do know that that there are a number of risk factors that may increase the risk. Studies suggest that a patient’s genes may contribute to AMD in as many as 75 percent of cases. Although there are genetic patterns, the condition most likely develops from a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Family History

Macular degeneration tends to run in families and is more likely to develop in individuals who have a family history of the condition. If a close relative such as a parent or sibling has macular degeneration, you may be at an increased risk for developing it as well. While you can’t change your family history, it’s important to be aware of this risk factor and schedule regular eye exams to catch any signs of macular degeneration early.


Smoking is a major modifiable risk factor for macular degeneration. In fact, studies have shown that smokers are up to four times more likely to develop macular degeneration than non-smokers. The toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke can cause damage to the blood vessels in the eyes, leading to degeneration of the macula. If you’re a smoker, quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do to protect your vision.

High Blood Pressure

Individuals with high blood pressure may also be at an increased risk for macular degeneration. This is because high blood pressure can cause damage to the blood vessels in the eyes, which can lead to a buildup of waste products that can damage the macula. If your blood pressure is consistently high, talk to your doctor about ways to lower it, such as lifestyle changes or medication.

Poor Diet

A diet that’s high in saturated fat and low in nutrients can also increase your risk of macular degeneration. Studies have shown that a diet that’s rich in vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and zinc can help reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration. Foods that are good sources of these nutrients include leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Eating a balanced diet that’s rich in nutrients can help protect your eyes and reduce your risk of macular degeneration.

Sun Exposure

High levels of exposure to sunlight, especially UV radiation, are a risk factor for macular degeneration. This is particularly important as it shows a link between blue light, produced by the sun and devices screens, and damage to the macula. Wearing a hat and sunglasses with a high UV-protection rating can help reduce your chances of developing the disease.

Risk Factors of Macular Degeneration

Diagnosing Macular Degeneration

While there is no cure for macular degeneration, there are various treatment options available. Treatment will depend on the type of macular degeneration you have and the severity of your vision loss. For dry macular degeneration, your doctor may recommend vitamins, antioxidants or laser therapy. Wet macular degeneration can be treated with injections into the eye, photodynamic therapy, or laser surgery.

Diagnosing macular degeneration is to get regular eye exams. Eye exams can help detect any early signs of macular degeneration and prevent further vision loss. During a comprehensive eye exam, your optometrist will check your visual acuity using different tests, measure eye pressure, and dilate the pupils to examine the retina. Patients with a family history of macular degeneration or over 50 years of age should get eye exams at least once a year.

The last step in diagnosing macular degeneration is to undergo special medical tests. For example, the Fluorescein Angiography and Indocyanine Green Angiography are tests that can help identify abnormal blood vessels growing under the retina. Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) is another non-invasive test that can detect distortions in the retina and macula. Moreover, genetic testing can help identify the risks of developing macular degeneration for people with a family history of the disease.

Can Macular Degeneration be Treated?

While there is no cure for macular degeneration, treatments can slow down the progression of the condition and prevent further vision loss. The treatment options depend on the type and severity of the condition. For dry macular degeneration, antioxidant vitamin supplements such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Zinc can be helpful. For wet macular degeneration, medications such as anti-VEGF injections can be used to stop the growth of abnormal blood vessels.

Macular Degeneration Treatment

There is no cure for age-related macular degeneration, but there are different treatment regimens that patients can follow to manage symptoms and slow progression. Doctors may also structure the treatment regimen based on the stage and type of the disease.

Nutritional Therapy

Early stages of dry AMD does not result in vision loss, but it does cause limitations. Typically patients can address the condition at this stage with nutritional therapy. Patients need a healthy, balanced diet with antioxidants, carotenoids and fatty acids to help protect the eyes. Physicians may also recommend supplements to help.

Laser Therapy

In this procedure, a doctor uses a thermal laser to destroy the damaged blood vessels under the macula. When it burns the vessels, it reduces fluid buildup and helps maintain vision. However, this therapy is temporary because the damaged vessels may return and this type of therapy may even cause damage to the macula. This treatment can be risky, but new research has discovered how it may potentially address AMD in the early stages.

Anti-VEGF Drugs

Anti-VEGF medications can help wet AMD. It stands for “vascular endothelial growth factor” and they are injectable drugs that aim to reduce fluid in the macula. It can also help reduce abnormal blood vessels and stop new ones from growing. Macugen, Lucentis, Avastin and Eylea are three types of anti-VEGF drugs.

Low Vision Rehabilitation

Low vision rehabilitation is a type of therapy designed to maximize the use of your remaining vision and help you adapt to the changes caused by macular degeneration. In this type of therapy, a specialist will assess your vision, prescribe and train you on how to use various devices like magnifying glasses, non-optical devices like audio books or large print texts, and even provide training on daily activities to improve your quality of life.

Future Treatments for Macular Degeneration

Scientists are conducting ongoing research on macular degeneration. Some of these researches propose stem cell therapy as a possible treatment option. Other researchers suggest early detection technology combined with lifestyle modifications as preventive measures, such as a recent study that suggests using an app called PVT (Portable Vision Tester) to detect macular degeneration conditions early on.

Can Macular Degeneration Cause Headaches?

Headaches associated with macular degeneration may vary in intensity and frequency. Some people may experience frequent dull headaches, while others may have intense migraines. The headaches may also be accompanied by other symptoms like nausea or dizziness. It is important to note that headaches are not a common symptom of macular degeneration, and there may be other underlying causes that need to be ruled out by an eye doctor or healthcare professional.

There are a few potential causes for headaches in macular degeneration patients. One of the most common is eye strain caused by the extra effort the eyes must make to compensate for lost vision. This, in turn, can lead to strained muscles around the eyes that cause headaches. Additionally, the inflammation caused by macular degeneration in the eyes may irritate surrounding nerves and tissues, which can trigger headaches.

Supplements for Macular Degeneration 

Medical experts may recommend supplements for patients to take as well alongside other medications or treatment procedures. There are several benefits of using supplements. For example, they may help slow down the progression rate and keep the eyes healthy for longer. However, consult a doctor before taking any supplements for macular degeneration. They do not cure this disease or any other, but they may help improve eye health.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Studies have shown that consuming omega-3 fatty acids can aid in reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Omega-3s can be found in fish such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna, as well as in flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts. However, omega-3-6-9 supplements are also an option for those who may not be getting enough omega-3s through their diet.

Vitamin C

As an antioxidant, Vitamin C can help to protect the eyes against oxidative stress. This is especially important as the eyes are very susceptible to oxidative stress and can lead to the development of AMD. It can be found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, such as citrus fruits, bell peppers, and kiwi. Vitamin C Supplements are also available for those who may not be able to consume enough Vitamin C through their diet.

Vitamin E

Much like Vitamin C, Vitamin E is an antioxidant that can be beneficial for protecting the eyes from oxidative stress. Specifically, studies have shown that it can aid in the prevention of AMD. You can find it in a variety of foods, such as nuts, seeds, and leafy greens. However, vitamin E supplements may be recommended for those who need a higher dosage.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids that are found in high concentrations in the macular area of the eye. These pigments can protect the eyes from harmful blue light and oxidative stress, reducing the risk of developing AMD. Foods such as spinach, kale, and eggs contain these carotenoids, but lutein and zeaxanthin supplements are also available.


Zinc is a mineral that plays a crucial role in eye health. It can aid in the absorption of other vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin A and Vitamin E. Studies have shown that zinc can also play a role in reducing the risk of AMD. Oysters, beef, and chicken are all high in zinc. However, zinc supplements may be recommended for those who need a higher dosage.

Bilberry Extract

Bilberry is in the same family as blueberries and cranberries. Like blueberries, bilberry is a great source of antioxidants that can help protect the body from free radical damage. Free radical molecules cause oxidative stress on the body that can increase the risk of disease, including diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Bilberry may also help prevent macular degeneration and vision loss, but there is not enough research to label it as an effective treatment. As a dietary supplement, the recommended serving size for bilberry extract powder is 400 mg (about 1/4 tsp) once or twice a day with a meal, unless a physician advises against it.


Many people find it difficult to get all the necessary vitamins and minerals through their diet alone. This is where multivitamins come in. A daily multivitamin supplement can help ensure that you’re getting all the essential nutrients your body needs, including those that are crucial for eye health.

The Bottom Line

Macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of blindness. It is an age-related condition that causes central vision loss. In its early stages, patients may not notice any changes in vision, but signs include blurred and distorted vision, difficulty reading print and sensitivity to glares. There are three stages of the condition characterized by how the disease progresses and the amount of drusen behind the retina. As AMD progresses to the late stage, physicians divide it into two categories: “wet” and “dry.”

There is no definitive cause for AMD, but it is likely a combination of genetic and environmental factors, such as smoking or diabetes. AMD also does not have a specific cure, but there are treatment methods that can help slow progression and maintain vision. 

While herbal supplements can’t cure it, they can be incredibly beneficial in protecting your eyes and slowing down the rate of macular degeneration. A balanced diet, rich in nutrients and minerals, and supplements that are rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants can keep your eyes healthy. With the right supplements, you can improve the visual quality of your eyes and prevent macular degeneration from developing. These supplements are entirely safe when taken in the recommended amounts, but be sure to consult with a healthcare provider before adding them to your diet. Here’s to good health, and healthy eyes!

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease

Author: BulkSupplements Staff