Macular degeneration affects central vision, making tasks like reading and driving challenging. While it can’t be cured or reversed, specialty eyeglasses may improve vision.

Your macula is a part of your retina responsible for your central vision. Macular degeneration leads to partial vision loss. Often, you’ll see blank or blurry areas in the center of your vision.

Read on to learn how glasses can help people with macular degeneration see better and the types of glasses available.

Eyeglasses can help you maximize your vision. Although glasses can’t completely correct vision loss in people with macular degeneration, they can maximize your vision, making it easier for you to do day-to-day activities that require you to see details.

Sunglasses can also be helpful, as they can prevent further damage to your eyes. Sunglasses can’t entirely stop your eyesight from deteriorating, but they can help you avoid sun damage, which can worsen your vision.

If you have macular degeneration, an optometrist or ophthalmologist might advise you to wear eyeglasses that enhance the vision you have left.

This is especially important if you have macular degeneration in one eye. Glasses can dramatically improve your quality of life by supporting your vision in the unaffected eye.

Bifocal glasses

Bifocal glasses contain two lens prescriptions in one. They are a convenient alternative to using two different sets of glasses.

One part of the glass allows you to see distant objects, while the smaller part of the glass allows you to see closer objects (like the words on a page or your cellphone).


One disadvantage of traditional bifocals is that they have a noticeable line on the lens. For this reason, doctors commonly prescribe progressive lenses, which have no visible lines and give a clear vision at all distances.

These glasses can’t reverse or fix macular degeneration. But if you need them because your eyesight has deteriorated from other age-related conditions, it’s wise to use them. They can help you make the most of the vision you still have.

Yellow-tinted glasses

In the early and intermediate stages of age-related macular degeneration, you might experience reduced contrast sensitivity. This means it’s difficult to see contrasts in similar colors. For example, it can make it difficult to see the steps on a set of stairs or the texture of a fabric.

According to a 2018 study, yellow-tinted glasses can help people perceive color contrasts more easily. The study involved 110 people with decreased contrast sensitivity and found that yellow filters significantly improved their vision.

Yellow-tinted glasses reduce the amount of light that gets into the eye. For this reason, it’s best to avoid using them at night and in low lighting, especially when you’re driving.

Telescopic glasses

Telescopic glasses can improve distance vision, allowing you to see faraway objects more clearly. They are ideal for people with late-stage age-related macular degeneration who have problems with distance vision.

Magnifying glasses

Magnifying glasses improve near vision. If you find it hard to focus on objects close to you, they might help. However, they only magnify objects close to your eyes, so they aren’t ideal for improving distance vision.

Certain enhancements can improve your glasses, making them more comfortable and protective for your eyes. This can help improve your vision and prevent further eye damage.

High powered lenses

High-powered lenses magnify objects greatly. They are made to be as thin and light as possible, which is ideal for people with age-related macular degeneration who also need prescription lenses.

Polycarbonate lenses

Polycarbonate is a specific kind of plastic. If you have macular degeneration, polycarbonate lenses might be a wise choice for you.

Polycarbonate lenses have a range of benefits:

  • they can withstand more impact than regular lenses, making them more durable
  • they’re lightweight
  • they’re thinner than regular lenses
  • they block out harmful UV rays without needing extra coating

Because they’re durable, polycarbonate lenses are ideal for people who are active or often play sports.

Anti-glare or anti-reflective coating

A professional can apply an anti-glare or anti-reflective coating to your glasses to remove glare from light. Removing unnecessary reflection can help you see more clearly.

These coatings can help reduce eyestrain by removing glare. This is especially helpful if you often look at a computer or phone screen.

High quality sunglasses can protect your eyes from further damage. Although we might not always think about protecting our eyes from the sun, UV light can severely affect eye health. It may contribute to the development of macular degeneration, cataracts, and other conditions.

To prevent sun damage, always opt for sunglasses that block out 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB radiation from sunlight. Although these glasses might be more pricey, they offer a great deal of protection.

In some cases, other vision aids can help people with macular degeneration. These aids can help you see objects more clearly and enhance your quality of life.

Magnifying lenses

Like magnifying glasses, magnifying lenses help you see close objects more clearly. Magnifying lenses differ as they’re handheld objects rather than a pair of glasses. You can also get standing magnifying lenses.

Binoculars or monoculars

Binoculars and monoculars can help you see far away objects with one or both eyes. These can be helpful when visiting the cinema, birdwatching, or admiring scenery.

Binoculars and monoculars can help people with macular degeneration maximize their vision. However, they’re more suitable for those with early stage macular degeneration because they still have most of their central vision.


Typoscopes can make reading easier for people with low vision, including those with macular degeneration.

Typoscopes are simple pieces of black plastic or paper with a small cutout opening. They help your eyes focus on reading one line at a time and can also help you write.

Typoscopes are likely more helpful for people with early stage age-related macular degeneration because you’ll still need most of your central vision to read or write using a typoscope.

Closed-circuit television magnifiers

Video or closed-circuit television magnifiers can help people with low vision view objects, like books or photographs, more clearly. It magnifies the object and projects it onto a television so that you can see it in more detail.

The American Foundation for the Blind has a comprehensive list of video magnifiers and closed-circuit television systems that could help you. You can choose a handheld or standing magnifier based on your needs.

Eyeglasses for macular degeneration can range in price depending on:

  • the nature of your prescription
  • whether you opt for eyeglass enhancements
  • the brand and type of glasses frames

Websites state that lenses can cost anywhere between $200 and several thousand dollars. You may be able to purchase some glasses over the counter in the drugstore, and these generally cost $10 to $20.

That said, it’s difficult to estimate costs because these can vary across brands and suppliers.

If you have insurance, check your policy to see whether your insurer will pay for eyeglasses. Most insurance plans cover routine checkups and offer an allowance for prescription lenses.

The Medicare website explains that Part B (medical insurance) can pay for certain diagnostic tests and treatments if you have age-related macular degeneration. However, Original Medicare doesn’t cover routine vision exams or glasses.

Some assistance programs might help you with the costs of eye tests, lenses, and other vision aids. For example:

  • EyeCare America provides free and lower cost eye exams for qualified U.S. citizens 65 and older who haven’t seen an ophthalmologist in the last 3 years.
  • New Eyes provides single or lined bifocal lenses at no cost to those who are unable to purchase glasses themselves.
  • The Chronic Disease Fund provides financial assistance for people with age-related macular degeneration.

You can also ask an ophthalmologist, optometrist, or optician if they’re aware of any local financial assistance initiatives.

Whether you have wet age-related macular degeneration or dry age-related macular degeneration, losing some of your vision can affect your daily life.

Certain vision aids and eyeglasses for macular degeneration can help you make the most of your eyesight and manage daily tasks more easily.

You can speak with an ophthalmologist or optometrist about whether eyeglasses are suitable for you. Another option is to consult a low vision specialist, sometimes called a vision rehabilitation specialist, who can prescribe you a customized solution that works for your specific vision needs.

Sian Ferguson is a freelance health and cannabis writer based in Cape Town, South Africa. She’s passionate about empowering readers to take care of their mental and physical health through science-based, empathetically delivered information.