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Macular Degeneration Research and National Glaucoma Research Award 2007 Grants

  • Press Release
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CLARKSBURG, MD.- Macular Degeneration Research (MDR) and National Glaucoma Research (NGR), two programs of the American Health Assistance Foundation, have awarded a total of $2.4 million in eye disease research grants for 2007. After reviewing applications from around the world, the MDR and NGR Scientific Review Committees awarded two-year grants to 26 scientists conducting research on age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and glaucoma. These researchers seek to better understand these two diseases and ways to treat and prevent them.

AMD is a common eye disease that causes deterioration of the macula, the central area of the retina, a paper-thin tissue at the back of the eye where light-sensitive cells send visual signals to the brain. Clear, central vision is processed by the macula. Damage to this area of the eye results in blind spots and blurred or distorted vision and makes many daily activities increasingly difficult. AMD is a major cause of visual impairment in the U.S. For white Americans over 65 years old, it is the leading cause of legal blindness. Approximately 1.8 million Americans age 40 and older have advanced AMD, and another 7.3 million people with intermediate AMD are at substantial risk for vision loss. The government estimates that by 2020 there will be 2.9 million people in the advanced stage of the disease.

Glaucoma is actually a group of eye diseases in which intraocular pressure builds in the eye and causes damage to the optic nerve, the bundle of nerve fibers that carries visual information from the eye to the brain. This optic nerve damage can lead to vision loss and potentially, blindness. Medications and surgery can slow the progression of the disease, but there is no cure. Over 2 million people have the most common type of glaucoma in the United States, and of these, as many as 120,000 are blind due to the disease. It is estimated that the number of Americans with glaucoma will increase to 3.3 million by the year 2020. Worldwide, an estimated 66.8 million people have visual impairment from glaucoma, with 6.7 million suffering from blindness.

Since the inception of the two programs, a total of $6.5 million has been given for research into the causes and potential treatments of AMD, and over $14.2 million has been awarded to glaucoma research. MDR and NGR are programs of the American Health Assistance Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to eradicating age-related and degenerative diseases through research and public education.