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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.