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Best Glasses for Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)



Best Glasses for Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease that weakens central vision, making it difficult to focus on objects straight ahead when driving, reading or watching TV. Many people with AMD also struggle with seeing fine details, sensing contrasts between similar colors and adjusting to changes in lighting.

The right eyewear can enhance vision and improve daily life for people with AMD. From magnification and high-powered lenses to anti-glare coatings and prismatic lenses, a variety of eyeglasses options are available.

Here are some of the eyeglasses features that may prove helpful for people with AMD.

AMD and Sunglasses

People with AMD develop damage to the retina, the innermost light-sensitive tissue in the eye. To prevent further harm from ultraviolet radiation, patients with AMD are strongly encouraged to wear sunglasses outdoors at all times.

UV protection in sunglasses is essential to safeguard the eyelids, cornea, lens and retina. Sunglasses that block 100% of both UVA and UVB radiation are best. This should be indicated by a label on the lenses. For ultimate protection, wrap-around and/or larger sunglasses are recommended to limit UV light entering the eyes from the sides or the top. “More surface area is better,” advises ophthalmologist and Academy member Purnima Patel, MD.

Keep in mind that UV light can penetrate through clouds, so sunglasses should be worn throughout daylight hours and even on cloudy days.

Yellow-Tinted Lenses for AMD

Many people with AMD have poor contrast sensitivity. They struggle to see the contrasts between different colors. This can make it difficult to recognize individual steps on a stairwell, for example. Studies have found that yellow-tinted glasses may improve contrast sensitivity. But be careful: Tinted glasses should not be worn at night or in low lighting because they reduce the amount of light that enters the eye.

AMD and Anti-Glare Coatings

People with AMD often experience heightened sensitivity to glare and bright light, which can further impair vision. An anti-reflective coating can reduce glare. Similarly, polarized lenses reduce the amount of light that comes in through the glasses, which can help lower glare coming off reflective surfaces like water or pavement. Wearing them can help improve clarity and visibility. “This can be especially beneficial for people with AMD who spend a lot of time outdoors or driving,” said Dr. Patel.

Polycarbonate Lenses Protect Eyes from Injury

Polycarbonate lenses are more durable and able to withstand greater impact. This added level of physical protection can be beneficial for someone who has compromised vision in one or both eyes. They can also provide an added layer of security for an individual who is very active or plays sports.

Magnification and AMD

Make sure your eyeglasses prescription is up to date. “If you have AMD, your retinal specialist or ophthalmologist should help you determine the most appropriate time to get measured for glasses,” advised Purnima Patel, MD. “It’s important to wait until the disease process is stable.”

Lenses with a high magnification factor can significantly improve the ability to read small print. These lenses are available in various forms:

  • Bifocal glasses contain two different magnification levels in one lens, separated by a visible line. One part of the glass allows you to see far-away objects, while the other part of the glass lets you focus on objects up close. Although they can be a convenient alternative to using two different sets of glasses, “bifocals may not be strong enough for some patients with macular degeneration, who may need to graduate to a handheld magnifier in order to read,” said Dr. Patel.
  • Magnifying glasses can be helpful for close-up work such as threading a needle. They are thicker than regular glasses, and require you to hold an object very near to the eyes. These glasses are not suitable for distance vision.
  • High-powered lenses benefit many people with AMD. These glasses have a high level of magnification and a built-in prism, which helps improve vision for activities like reading and computer work. “The trade-off of magnification is a smaller field of vision,” said Dr Patel. “For example, if you use high powered lenses to read, you may need to adapt by moving your head in order to scan and see an entire line of print.”
  • Telescopic glasses can help improve distance vision. They use a small telescope system that attaches to the lenses, allowing you to see far-away objects more clearly.

Joseph & Swan Can Recommend Eyewear for AMD

If these options seem overwhelming or confusing, a low vision specialist can help tailor recommendations specific to your needs. These experts provide a variety of support tools and services, and can work with you in your home to help you maintain everyday activities and remain as independent as possible.

By Reena Mukamal Reviewed By Purnima S Patel, MD Jun. 06, 2023