Understanding Your Disease

Quick Facts About Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which affects central vision, can occur in one or both eyes.
  • The disease can progress slowly or quickly.
  • Two types of AMD exist: dry and wet.
  • A person can have either or both types.
  • Dry AMD can suddenly change into the wet type of the disease.
  • Dry AMD can advance and cause central vision loss without changing into wet AMD.
  • Not everyone with early AMD will develop advanced AMD.
  • A person with advanced AMD does not experience total blindness, but the loss of central vision can significantly interfere with everyday activities.

What Is Macular Degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common eye disease among people 60 and older and is a leading cause of irreversible vision loss. For Caucasians older than 40, it is the leading cause of legal blindness. 

As many as 11 million Americans have some type of macular degeneration, including both the early and later stages of the wet and dry types. This number is expected to double to nearly 22 million by 2050.

AMD causes deterioration of the macula, the central area of the retina. The retina is a paper-thin tissue at the back of the eye where light sensitive cells send visual signals to the brain. Sharp, clear, straight-ahead vision is processed by the macula. Damage to it results in blind spots and blurred or distorted vision. Those affected by AMD find many daily activities, such as driving and reading, increasingly difficult. 

Macular Degeneration Research (MDR) Program

Scientific evidence shows that genes may play a role in the development of nearly three out of four cases of this devastating eye disease. Since its inception, the MDR program has awarded more than $18.4 million to support research into the causes and potential preventions and treatments of macular degeneration disease.

Learn more about the research we fund to see our latest research.