Is the most common cause of vision loss for individuals 50 years and older in the United States, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a progressive disease of the retina. AMD gradually destroys the macula, the center part of the retina, which has the highest amount of cells that function to provide fine vision required for activities such as reading and driving.
AMD affects 18 million Americans, including 80% of people over the age of 80. The age 60+ population is projected to double by 2030, and with few treatment options and no known cure, the numbers of those suffering from AMD are expected to dramatically increase.
The repercussions of AMD are decreased quality of life, significant increased occurrences of depression and anxiety, and severely decreased independence with more pressure on caregivers. Driving, reading, smart phones, computers – all of these modern necessities can be lost through AMD.
Only those diagnosed at the more advanced stage of wet AMD have access to treatment, consisting of repeat injections of medicine into the eye that can slow the loss of vision for a period of time for some patients. None of those suffering from dry AMD have viable treatment options, which is 95% of AMD patients. There is no cure, mainly due to the complex nature of this highly individualized disease.
It is a highly complex and individualized disease. A diagnosis can’t be made unless there is tangible damage to the structure of the eye. Clinicians may only evaluate the disease through the patient’s visual acuity and have little information to predict the progression of the disease. The miniscule treatment options are due to the lack of understanding of why AMD develops.
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