Talking to Your Doctor About Macular Degeneration
Amy Scholten, MPH
You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors and/or experience with macular degeneration. By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.
General Tips for Gathering Information
Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:
- Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
- Write out your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
- Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
- Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.
- Ask your doctor if he or she has any material you can take home with you so you and your family can learn more about this disease.
Specific Questions to Ask
About Macular Degeneration
- What type of macular degeneration do I have?
- Do I have it in one or both eyes? If it’s only in one eye, what is my risk of developing it in the other eye?
- How severe is my condition? What is my degree of visual impairment?
- What can I do to prevent my condition from getting worse?
About Treatment Options
- What treatments are available for macular degeneration?
- Would I benefit from surgery?
- Do you know of any counselors who treat people who are visually impaired?
- Do you know of any support groups that would benefit me?
- What resources do you know of that could help me?
- Can you refer me to a social worker who works with people that are visually impaired?
- Where can I find a low-vision professional who can help me with vision aids and devices?
- Should I be registered with the Commission for the Blind?
About Lifestyle Changes
What lifestyle changes can help me to manage my condition? What should I do about:
- Smoking (or other substances such as alcohol or drugs)
- Are there certain drugs that I should not take?
- What do I need to do to protect my eyes?
About Your Outlook
- What is the outlook for my condition?
- Will it get progressively worse? If so, how fast can I expect the progression to be?
- Is there anything I can do to slow down the progression of this condition?
- Should my family members be screened for macular degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114486/Age-related-macular-degeneration-AMD. Updated May 27, 2016. Accessed November 28, 2016.
Age-related macular degeneration. National Eye Institute (NEI) website. Available at:
https://nei.nih.gov/health/maculardegen. Accessed November 28, 2016.
Tips for talking to your doctor. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/tips-for-talking-to-your-doctor. Updated May 2014. Accessed November 28, 2016.
What is macular degeneration? American Academy of Ophthalmology website. Available at:
https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/amd-macular-degeneration. Accessed November 28, 2016.
What is macular degeneration?
American Macular Degeneration Foundation website. Available at:
https://www.macular.org/what-macular-degeneration. Accessed November 28, 2016.
Last reviewed November 2016 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 5/20/2015