Health Connections
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Very advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The yellow areas indicate retinal damage from AMD.

Credit: National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health

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Age-related Macular Degeneration

Is age-related macular degeneration (AMD) a disease of the developed world, where people live longer due to better health care and nutrition? Experts estimate that close to 30% of the population will have some form of AMD by age 75. AMD, the leading cause of blindness in the elderly, occurs when the specialized retinal cells responsible for fine, central vision cease to function properly. As vision loss from AMD progresses, everyday activities like reading, driving and watching television become increasingly difficult.

AMD is most prevalent in European and European American populations in the developed world, where people live longer thanks to better nutrition and health care. Lifestyle choices, like a fatty diet, smoking, high blood pressure and long-term unprotected exposure to sunlight, increase the risk of developing AMD. However, family history is perhaps the strongest predictor of AMD risk.

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