Early symptoms of macular degeneration generally exhibit with a distortion of straight lines ultimately progressing to a loss of central vision. 
More Info: The early symptoms of macular degeneration often go unnoticed until they begin to progress but can include an increasing blurriness when reading with the need for additional light, difficulty adapting to low light levels, crooked central vision that progressively becomes more hazy, and a decrease in how bright colors appear. 
What Is the Macula?
The center of the retina, or layer of tissue on the inside back wall of the eyeball, is known as the “macula.” The macula is responsible for straight, forward, central vision. When the cells of the macula begin to break down due to age, this vision then becomes distorted. Thus, macular degeneration is the loss of center vision in a person’s field of vision. 
Two Forms of Disease
There are two kinds of macular degeneration, both age-related. The more common “dry” variety is so called because unlike the “wet” form of this ailment, it does not involve swelling caused by leaking blood vessels at the back of the eye. In most cases, the dry form of macular degeneration is less severe than the wet form, which can quickly result in central vision loss.
Each form of the disease can affect one or both eyes. In the case of the former, wet macular degeneration is still fairly quickly diagnosed, because of the resulting swelling. But if the macular degeneration is of the dry variety, a sufferer may not quickly notice the vision loss, because their good eye will compensate for it. 
Gradual Onset of Symptoms
The early non-swelling symptoms for macular degeneration are manifestations of the same basic problem: having to adjust because of reduced vision. Such symptoms include: needing more light to read or perform intricate, close-up tasks; seeing blurry words on the printed page; and noticing that colors come across with less brightness and-or intensity.
As the degeneration increases, a person may start to notice even more dramatic symptoms such as difficulty making out familiar people’s faces, increased haziness of vision, and a blurry or even blind spot in the center field of vision. Some people even experience hallucinations, seeing shapes and figures that are not there. 
Recent statistics show that among Americans ages 40 and over, macular degeneration affects 1.47% of the population. This translates to 1.75 million people that already have AMD, with more than 7 million additional people at substantial risk of developing AMD. Because of the general Baby Boomer age curve, the percentage of people suffering from macular degeneration is expected to have doubled by the year 2020. 
Symptoms of Age-Related Macular Degeneration
 Mayo Clinic
Dry Macular Degeneration Symptoms
 Duke Eye Center
What Is the Macula?
What Is AMD?
 National Eye Institute
Facts about Age Related Macular Degeneration
National Eye Institute
Prevalence of Age-Related Macular Degeneration in the United States http://www.nei.nih.gov/eyedata/pbd4.asp
Quote: “In its early stages, age-related macular degeneration may not have symptoms and may be unrecognized until it progresses or affects both eyes. The first sign of macular degeneration is usually distortion of straight lines. This may progress to a gradual loss of central vision.”