Every year an increasing number of people are affected by age-related macular degeneration (ARMD). Consequently, vast amount of information is accumulated in medical databases and manual classification of this information is becoming more and more difficult. Therefore, there is an increasing interest in developing automated evaluation methods to follow up the diseases. In this paper, we have presented an automatic method for segmenting the ARMD in retinal fundus images. Previously used direct segmentation techniques, generating unsatisfactory results in some cases, are more complex and costly than our inverse method. This is because of the fact that the texture of unhealthy areas of macula is quite irregular and varies from eye to eye. Therefore, a simple inverse segmentation method is proposed to exploit the homogeneity of healthy areas of the macula rather than unhealthy areas. This method first extracts healthy areas of the macula by employing a simple region growing method. Then, blood vessels are also extracted and classified as healthy regions. In order to produce the final segmented image, the inverse image of the segmented image is generated as unhealthy region of the macula. The performance of the method is examined on various qualities of retinal fundus images. The segmentation method without any user involvement provides over 90% segmentation accuracy. Segmented images with reference invariants are also compared with consecutive images of the same patient to follow up the changes in the disease. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.