NIH News Release
National Eye Institute

Wenesday, July 7, 1999

Contact: NEI Information Office
Telephone: (301) 496-5248

B-roll and photos available

Recruitment Begins for Study on Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Patient recruitment has begun on a clinical trial to find out if laser treatment decreases vision loss for people who may be at risk for severe age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is a common eye disease of the macula, a tiny area in the retina that helps produce sharp, central vision required for "straight ahead" activities such as reading, sewing, and driving. A person with AMD - the leading cause of severe visual impairment in Americans 60 years of age and older - loses this clear, central vision. An estimated 1.7 million Americans have AMD.

The clinical trial, called the Complications of Age-Related Macular Degeneration Prevention Trial (CAPT), is designed to assess the safety and effectiveness of low intensity laser treatment. Researchers hope to determine if low intensity laser treatment might prevent disease progression and loss of vision in people who are at risk for severe AMD. The CAPT will enroll a total of 1000 patients in 23 clinical centers across the United States during an 18-month period. The trial will last at least five years and is sponsored by the National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the Federal government's National Institutes of Health.

"As 'baby boomers' age and a higher percentage of Americans reach age 60, AMD will become an even more serious medical issue," said Dr. Carl Kupfer, director of the NEI. "The prevalence of AMD is expected to rise to 6.3 million by the year 2030, when even greater percentages of our population will have turned 60."

All patients in the trial will have one eye treated with the laser and one eye not treated. The treatment is performed quickly and causes little, if any, discomfort. Both eyes will be carefully monitored throughout the trial to evaluate any eye or vision problems and determine the effects of the laser treatment. There is a small chance that the new treatment could increase the risk of vision loss. Any important information gained from this study will be shared with all CAPT patients, doctors, and the public as soon as it becomes available.

To be eligible for the study, patients must meet all of the following criteria:

Those who are interested in participating in the trial and want more information should check with their eye care professional to see if they meet all the study criteria listed above. A booklet listing study centers can be obtained from the CAPT Coordinating Center at 3535 Market Street, Suite 700, Philadelphia, PA, 19104-3309. Information also is available on the CAPT web site at, or on the NEI's web site at A list of study centers is attached.

Attachment: CAPT Clinical Centers