Age-related macular degeneration — also called macular degeneration, AMD or ARMD — is deterioration of the macula, which is the small central area of the retina of the eye that controls visual acuity.
The health of the macula determines our ability to read, recognize faces, drive, watch television, use a computer, and perform any other visual task that requires us to see fine detail.
Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss among older Americans, and due to the aging of the U.S. population, the number of people affected by AMD is expected to increase significantly in the years ahead.
According to a recent study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 6.5 percent of Americans age 40 and older have some degree of macular degeneration. Other research suggests there were 9.1 million cases of early AMD in the U.S. in 2010 and this number is expected to increase to 17.8 million by the year 2050.
AMD is most common among the older white population, affecting more than 14 percent of white Americans age 80 and older. Among Americans age 50 and older, advanced macular degeneration affects 2.1 percent of this group overall, with whites being affected more frequently than blacks, non-white Hispanics and other ethnic groups (2.5 percent vs. 0.9 percent).
Progression to wet macular degeneration is the main complication of dry age-related macular degeneration. At any time, dry macular degeneration can progress to the more severe form of the disease called wet macular degeneration, which may cause rapid vision loss. There is no accurate way to predict who will eventually develop wet macular degeneration.
Other eye diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, retinal detachment, or dry eyes are not complications of macular degeneration. Patients with macular degeneration can, however, develop these or other eye diseases and people with these conditions can also develop AMD concurrently.
- University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
- Cure Macular Degeneration
- What Is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?