What Is AMD?

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a major cause of blindness worldwide, and is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness for Americans aged 65 years and older.1 By 2050, the estimated number of people with AMD is expected to more than double from 2.07 million (in 2010) to 5.44 million.2

AMD causes damage to the macula, the part of the eye needed for sharp, central vision, that allows us to view objects that are straight ahead. For some, AMD progresses slowly and vision loss does not occur quickly, but for others, the disease progresses faster and may lead to a loss of vision in one or both eyes. A blurred area near the center of vision is a common symptom, and over time, the blurred area may grow larger or blank spots may develop. Objects also may not appear to be as bright as they used to be. This loss of central vision can make simple activities like seeing faces, driving, reading, and writing difficult.3 See Figure below for an example of how AMD may affect vision.

Figure: Example of normal vision (left) and vision with AMD (right).4

Age is a major risk factor for AMD; the disease is most likely to occur after age 60, but it can occur earlier. Other risk factors for AMD include:3

  • Smoking: research shows that smoking doubles the risk of AMD
  • Race: AMD is more common among Caucasians than among African-Americans or Hispanics/Latinos
  • Family history and genetics: people with a family history of AMD are at higher risk

References

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Learn About Age-Related Macular Degeneration. https://www.cdc.gov/features/healthyvisionmonth/index.html. Accessed April 6, 2020.
  2. National Institutes of Health (NIH)/National Eye Institute (NEI). AMD Data and Statistics. https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/resources-for-health-educators/eye-health-data-and-statistics/age-related-macular-degeneration-amd-data-and-statistics. Accessed April 1, 2020.
  3. NIH/NEI. Age-related Macular Degeneration: What You Should Know. https://www.nei.nih.gov/sites/default/files/health-pdfs/WYSK_AMD_English_Sept2015_PRINT.pdf. Accessed April 6, 2020.
  4. Free Macular Degeneration Awareness Posters for Healthy Vision Month. https://www.asrs.org/patients/retina-news/patient-news/63/free-macular-degeneration-awareness-posters-for-healthy-vision-month. Accessed April 6, 2020.

Patient & Caregiver Educational Resources

The RELIEF Patient Toolkit is a resource center for patients who have been diagnosed with or who are interested in learning about age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Choose from the options below to learn more.

This activity is provided by Med Learning Group. This activity is co-provided by Ultimate Medical Academy/Complete Conference Management (CCM). This activity is supported by an independent medical education grant from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

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Scientific Council

Neil M. Bressler, MD

James P. Gills Professor of Ophthalmology
Professor of Ophthalmology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins Medicine
Baltimore, MD

A. Paul Chous, MA, OD, FAAO

Specializing in Diabetes Eye Care & Education, Chous Eye Care Associates
Adjunct Professor of Optometry, Western University of Health Sciences
AOA Representative, National Diabetes Education Program
Tacoma, WA

Steven Ferrucci, OD, FAAO

Chief of Optometry, Sepulveda VA Medical Center
Professor, Southern California College of Optometry at Marshall B. Ketchum University
Sepulveda, CA

Julia A. Haller, MD

Ophthalmologist-in-Chief
Wills Eye Hospital
Philadelphia, PA

Allen C. Ho, MD, FACS

Director, Retina Research
Wills Eye Hospital
Professor and Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology
Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals
Philadelphia, PA

Charles C. Wykoff, MD, PhD

Director of Research, Retina Consultants of Houston
Associate Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology
Blanton Eye Institute & Houston Methodist Hospital
Houston, TX