Research to Prevent Blindness

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Jay S. Duker, MD discusses AMD
Click on the image, above, to watch the Chairman of an RPB-supported department of ophthalmology, Jay S. Duker, MD, discuss age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

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RPB researchers are working to understand and prevent macular degeneration, to halt its progression, and to develop optical devices to offset vision loss.

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Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a vision disorder caused by abnormalities in a portion of the eye's retina called the macula. Early symptoms of AMD are blurred central vision and a waviness of straight lines. The blurriness may progress to blind spots, affecting reading, TV watching and many other pleasures of independent living. There are two stages of AMD. Early AMD is far more common but late AMD has a far greater impact on vision.

Late AMD can be subdivided into the dry, or non-neovascular, form and the wet, or neovascular, form (see illustration). Dry AMD is characterized by more extensive pigmentary abnormalities in the macula and by a somewhat extensive loss of pigment cells and vision cells in the central macula.  It is called dry because it is not associated with abnormal blood vessels or leakage of blood or fluid.

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An estimated 1.75 million Americans over age 40 have decreased vision from AMD.  That number is expected to increase to 3 million by 2020.


Wet AMD occurs in about 10% of patients who have late AMD. It is characterized by an overgrowth of blood vessels, behind the macula, that leak blood or fluid or both. This leads to damage of the vision cells. Age is the single greatest risk factor for macular degeneration. Leaky blood vessels under the macula can cause changes in vision.  Studies supported by RPB show that lifestyle choices may influence the onset and progression of AMD.

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