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Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Fact Sheet

Macular degeneration results from damage to the macula, the part of the eye responsible for central vision and the ability to see fine details clearly.1 Most cases of macular degeneration occur as part of the aging process and are known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD).2 AMD is a progressive retinal disease, usually occurring at age 55 years or older, with multiple environmental and genetic risk factors.3

About AMD

  • AMD is a leading cause of vision loss in people over 60.4 AMD typically affects people initially in one eye, with a likelihood of it occurring in the second eye over time.5
  • While it usually does not lead to total blindness, AMD may cause foggy or blurred central vision and varying degrees of usable peripheral vision.4
  • There are two forms of AMD - dry and wet. All cases begin as the dry form, but 10 percent to 15 percent progress to the wet form, which can result in sudden and severe central vision loss.6

Types of AMD

  • There are two types of AMD - dry and wet:
    • Dry AMD, the early form of AMD, accounts for 85 percent to 90 percent of all cases.3 It is characterized by the presence of fatty deposits called drusen in the macula. The collection of small, round, yellow-white drusen is a key identifier for AMD.3
    • Wet AMD accounts for approximately 90 percent of all AMD-related blindness and is thought to begin when blood vessels form abnormally at the back of the eye through a process called angiogenesis.3 The blood vessels leak blood or fluid in the macula and form scars that cause central vision to deteriorate and may result in permanent blind spots.3

Prevalence of AMD

  • Approximately 15 million people in the United States have AMD, and more than 1.7 million Americans have the advanced form of the disease.7,4

    • About 200,000 new cases of wet AMD are diagnosed each year in North America.8
    • Due to the aging baby boomer population, the National Eye Institute estimates that the prevalence of advanced AMD will grow to nearly 3 million by 2020.7

Symptoms and Diagnosis of AMD

  • In its early stages, AMD may not cause any noticeable symptoms. The disease may be present, and symptoms may occur, in one eye or both. People with dry AMD in only one eye often do not notice any change in their vision.5
  • Symptoms include blurred vision, difficulty seeing at a distance or doing detailed work - like sewing or reading fine print, blind spots developing in the middle of the field of vision, colors becoming hard to distinguish and distortion causing edges or lines to appear wavy.1,9,10
  • To diagnose AMD, an ophthalmologist or retina specialist may use a Snellen eye test, an Amsler Grid test, and/or a dilated examination with an ophthalmoscope instrument, to determine whether there are any abnormalities in the retina. Other commonly used diagnostic tests include optical coherence tomography (OCT) and fluorescein angiography (FA).11

AMD Risk Factors

  • In addition to aging, the following are risk factors for developing AMD:12
    • Gender (Women tend to be at greater risk than men)
    • Race (Caucasians are more likely to lose vision from AMD than African-Americans and Asian populations)
    • Smoking
    • Obesity
    • Family history

Vision Through the Eyes of a Person with Wet AMD


Normal Vision - 20/20

Loss Due to Wet AMD - 20/200

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