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).1 AMD is a progressive retinal disease with multiple environmental and genetic risk factors.1

About AMD

  • AMD is a leading cause of irreversible blindness or vision loss in people over 60, if left untreated.2
  • 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.3

Types of AMD

  • There are two types of AMD - dry and wet:
    • Dry AMD, the early form of AMD, accounts for 90 percent of diagnosed cases.2 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.1,4
    • Wet AMD accounts for approximately 10 percent of cases, but results in 90 percent of legal blindness.2 Wet, or neovascular, AMD is an advanced form of the condition that can cause rapid and severe vision loss.1 Wet AMD involves the uncontrolled growth of new blood vessels in the back of the eye, resulting in leakage of fluid into the macula.4

Prevalence of AMD

  • Approximately 20 million people in the United States have AMD, and nearly 1.5 million Americans have the advanced form of the disease.2,5
    • About 200,000 new cases of wet AMD are diagnosed each year in North America.6
    • Between 2010 and 2050, the estimated number of people with AMD will more than double from 2.1 million to 5.4 million.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.8 People with dry AMD in only one eye often do not notice any change in their vision.8
  • Symptoms include sudden blurred vision, blind spots that develop in the middle of the field of vision, difficulty distinguishing colors, distortion causing edges or lines to appear wavy, and trouble seeing in dim light.8
  • To diagnose AMD, getting an annual dilated eye exam is the best way to detect any changes in vision or in the eye. An eye doctor may also perform a Amsler Grid test, fundoscopy, a visual acuity test, fundus photography, optical coherence tomography (OCT), and fluorescein angiography (FA).1,2,4,8

AMD Risk Factors1,2,4,8

  • In addition to aging, the following are risk factors for developing AMD:
    • 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 and genetics

Vision Through the Eyes of a Person with Wet AMD

Normal Vision - 20/20

Loss Due to Wet AMD - 20/200