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Macular Degeneration Research and National Glaucoma Research Award 2008 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 (AHAF), have awarded a total of $2.7 million in eye disease research grants for 2008. After reviewing applications from around the world, the MDR and NGR Scientific Review Committees awarded two-year grants to 27 scientists from the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Israel and Australia who are 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 the optic nerve, the bundle of nerve fibers that carries visual information from the eye to the brain, is damaged. This damage is normally, but not always, associated with high eye pressure, and can lead to irreversible vision loss and potential blindness. Early intervention through medications and surgery can slow the progression of the disease and prevent vision loss, but there is no cure. Over 2.7 million Americans have the most common type of glaucoma*, and of these, as many as 120,000 are blind due to the disease. Vision experts believe that half of those affected by glaucoma may not know it, since there are usually no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness among African Americans and Hispanics in the U.S.

Since the inception of the two programs, a total of $7.7 million has been given for research into the causes and potential treatments of AMD, and over $15.7 million has been awarded to glaucoma research. MDR and NGR are programs of AHAF, a nonprofit organization dedicated to finding cures for glaucoma, AMD and Alzheimer's disease by funding scientists worldwide through generous donor contributions. Through its outreach efforts, American Health Assistance aids those directly affected and informs the general public about these diseases.

*Open-angle glaucoma estimate updated in June 2012