What Is AMD?

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the deterioration of light-sensitive tissue at the center of the retina, called the macula; it is a major cause of blindness worldwide and is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness for Americans aged 65 years and older.1-4 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.5

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.1 The exact cause of AMD is unknown but is understood to develop as the eye ages.1 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.2 In fact, many people do not realize they have AMD until they experience blurred vision.6 Blurriness or waviness in the center of vision are common symptoms, and over time the blurred area may grow larger or blank spots may develop.1-3 Objects also may not appear to be as bright as they used to be, and adapting to dark environments may be more difficult.2,3 The changes in vision associated with AMD can interfere with everyday simple activities, such as the ability to see faces, drive, read, write, watch television, or even use the computer or phone.2,4 See Figure below for an example of how AMD may affect vision.

Figure: Example of normal vision (left) and vision with AMD (right).7


  1. American Society of Retina Specialists (ASRS). The Foundation Retina Health Series. Age-related macular degeneration. 2022. https://www.asrs.org/patients/retinal-diseases/2/age-related-macular-degeneration.
  2. National Institutes of Health (NIH)/National Eye Institute (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.
  3. Flaxel CJ, Adelman RA, Bailey ST, et al. Age-related macular degeneration Preferred Practice Pattern®. Ophthalmology. 2020;127:P1-P65.
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Learn about age-related macular degeneration. https://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/resources/features/macular-degeneration.html.
  5. NIH/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.
  6. American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). What is macular degeneration? 2021. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/amd-macular-degeneration.
  7. ASRS. 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.

All URLs accessed 2/8/22.

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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

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

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 supported by an independent medical education grant from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

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