Specialty Glasses for Macular Degeneration

Prescription Lenses for AMD

Glasses for macular degeneration can help people with this type of vision loss see more clearly. People with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) may benefit from special lenses such as yellow-tinted or prismatic lenses. These special lenses can help improve your ability to see contrast or change the angle of light to avoid the problem areas in your eyes.

This article looks at some of the special glasses designed for people with age-related macular degeneration, and how they may be able to help improve your eyesight.

glasses for macular degeneration
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To find a low vision clinic/specialist in your local area, search online for “low vision optometrist near me.”

Glasses for AMD

AMD may cause a wide range of vision problems, from no problems at all to a significant impairment of the central vision. Getting the right type of specialty glasses can help.

There are optometrists who specialize in helping people with low vision get glasses that are right for them. 

In fact, according to the American Optometric Association (AOA), low vision services are commonly provided for those with vision problems that are not correctable with regular glasses, contact lenses, or surgery). Low vision is defined as visual impairment resulting in visual acuity of 20/70 or worse. 

Even those with severe vision loss who have been told nothing can be done to improve their sight can be helped with the practice of low vision rehabilitation, according to the AOA. Getting the right glasses is just one aspect of low vision rehab offered by such specialists.

Depending on the level of vision loss you’ve experienced and the stage and symptoms of AMD you have, there are several types of glasses that can help improve your vision.

Glasses for Early-Stage AMD

AMD involves progressive damage to the macula, an area in the middle of the retina responsible for clear central vision. In early-stage AMD, you may have several small or medium-sized deposits of drusen (yellow or white spots on the retina), with minimal visual symptoms. Usually, vision loss, such as blind spots or visual distortions, has not yet occurred at this stage of the disease.

At this stage of AMD, if you need corrective lenses for normal age-related vision loss or other causes, progressive bifocals may be prescribed. Alternatively, your optometrist may suggest using two different pairs of eyeglasses, one for reading and one for distance vision.

Protective Sunglasses

Blue light, which is present on bright, sunny days, has been found to increase the risk of AMD. To protect your eyes, your optometrist may recommend gray- or brown-tinted sunglasses or transitional lenses. These will help block damaging ultraviolet light from the sun that may worsen macular degeneration. Sunglasses with lenses that block 99% to 100% of harmful ultraviolet light are best.

Polycarbonate Lenses

Glasses can also help keep irritants, such as flying insects, out of your eyes. When a person has an eye condition like macular degeneration, it’s important to guard the eyes against injury, particularly if only one eye has good vision.

Lenses made with high-index polycarbonate plastic may be recommended to give the eyes additional protection against any type of eye trauma.

Glasses for Intermediate-Stage AMD

In intermediate-stage AMD, the drusen are larger in size, and medium-sized drusen may increase in number. The retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) is a layer of pigmented cells located beneath the retina. Changes in the RPE present during this stage of AMD could result in vision loss.

Symptoms during the intermediate stage may involve subtle changes in vision, or there may still be no noticeable symptoms at all. Some people begin to see small gray or black spots in the middle of their field of vision. Others have trouble with their eyes adjusting from bright to dim light. In addition, decreased contrast sensitivity (DCS) may be present. Contrast is the difference in light intensity or color that makes an object discernable.

DCS causes a person to experience colors that look faded and are not as bright or brilliant as usual. It can also result in the inability to decipher between different hues of similar colors. 

DCS may keep you from clearly seeing textures and may cause problems in detecting slight changes in the environment. For example, it may be difficult to discern the difference between individual stairs or changes in pavement. This can present an increased risk for falls.

Decreased contrast sensitivity may also be present during the early wet stage of AMD.

Yellow-Tinted Glasses

Yellow-tinted glasses can help improve visual contrast for those with intermediate-stage AMD.

Anti-Reflective Coating

Anti-reflective technology, which is available for customized macular degeneration glasses, can help to brighten your field of vision.

Anti-reflective technology enables the lenses of the glasses to avert excessive light reflection from the glass surface. This allows more light to pass through the lens. Anti-reflective technology can produce images that are much brighter than those of traditional lenses. This helps reduce the effects of DCS.

Glasses for Late-Stage AMD

Late-stage AMD occurs when the condition progresses to vision loss. This can occur with either the wet or dry form of AMD.

Wet AMD, an advanced stage of macular degeneration, involves leaky blood vessels that cause deterioration of the macula. The wet form of AMD progresses much more quickly than the dry form.

Symptoms of late-stage AMD include a loss of central vision. Objects in the middle of the line of vision may appear distorted or blurry, or may not be visible at all. Usually, objects in the peripheral field (side vision) are still visible, but it may be difficult to tell what they are.

During this stage of the disease, a person may see visual distortions such as lines that are broken or curve instead of appearing straight. Other symptoms may include large gray or black spots in the central field of vision or the inability to recognize faces even though the peripheral vision is still working.

Whether a person has vision loss from advanced wet or dry AMD, special glasses can help improve vision. For reading, these glasses may involve magnification and a built-in prism. For distance sight, a “bioptic” telescope may be employed. A bioptic telescope is a small telescope mounted on a person’s glasses to enable a person with advanced AMD to see objects more clearly from a distance.

Prismatic Lenses

Prismatic lenses, sometimes referred to as built-in prism glasses, are used in the advanced stage of macular degeneration. Prism-based lenses cause a deviation in the light rays that enter the eye. This enables the light rays to avoid the macular region that has deteriorated from AMD.

Although prismatic lenses do not eliminate the blind spots commonly experienced in those with AMD, the lenses can help to reduce the area of low vision, making the blind spot smaller.

Magnification Glasses

Magnification glasses can magnify images to improve distance vision. There are also special magnification glasses that help people with AMD see objects close up, for example, enlarging reading text.

Distance-vision glasses are special binocular-type lenses, referred to as “bioptic telescopes.” These are mounted onto the lenses of your glasses to help improve central vision for items that are far away. The level of magnification of the lenses can be adjusted to your specific needs.

It’s important to note that magnification glasses can help to reduce blind spots and distortions caused by macular degeneration, but they cannot eliminate these vision problems altogether.


If you have age-related macular degeneration, special eyeglasses may help improve your vision. In the early stages of AMD, you may only need lenses that correct normal age-related vision loss. In later stages, you may benefit from yellow-tinted lenses, prismatic lenses, or magnification glasses.

If you are interested in learning more about which glasses for macular degeneration might be right for you, be sure to speak to a low vision specialist—an optometrist who specializes in prescribing glasses for people with low vision. These specialists can evaluate your current symptoms and stage of AMD and write a prescription for the specialty glasses that are right for you.

In addition, keep in mind that when it comes to AMD, early detection is the key to slowing down the progression of the disease and receiving the most effective treatment for the symptoms you are experiencing.

Glasses for macular degeneration can help to manage your symptoms, but they can’t cure your disease. Always follow your ophthalmologist’s advice regarding regular eye exams and screenings.

7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Optometric Association. Low vision services.

  2. Dunaief J. Specialty glasses for macular degeneration. Bright Focus Foundation.

  3. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD): overview.

  4. Nelson H. Beyond cool: Which sunglasses protect your eyes from UV rays? Intermountain Healthcare.

  5. The American Macular Degeneration Foundation. Ultra-violet and blue light aggravate macular degeneration.

  6. Taggart M. Retinal pigment epithelium: The eye’s first line of defense against macular degeneration. Bright Focus Foundation.

  7.  Low Vision Specialists. Macular degeneration. Special glasses for those suffering from macular degeneration.

By Sherry Christiansen
Sherry Christiansen is a medical writer with a healthcare background. She has worked in the hospital setting and collaborated on Alzheimer's research.