Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

A scene as it might be viewed by a person with age-related macular degeneration. A scene as it might be viewed by a person with age-related macular degeneration (AMD): The scene shows two young boys holding large balls with a wooden fence in the background. The image is distorted by a large blurry spot in the center that blocks the boys' faces.

AMD is a disease affects the part of the retina called the macula. The macula is made up of millions of light-sensing cells that provide sharp, detailed central vision. As AMD progresses these cells die off and central vision is destroyed.

A person with AMD may have difficulty recognizing faces and doing tasks such as reading, sewing, or driving.

At two years, Avastin and Lucentis, two drugs widely used to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD), improve vision when used monthly or on an as-needed basis. However, greater improvements in vision were seen with monthly use, according to researchers supported by the National Institutes of Health.

AMD is a leading cause of vision loss in older Americans. In the advanced stages of AMD, abnormal blood vessels grow and leak fluid and blood into the macula and obscure vision. The macula is the central portion of the retina that allows us to look straight ahead and to see fine detail. As fluid and blood builds up, it damages the macula, causing loss of central vision, which can severely impede mobility and independence. Without treatment, most patients are unable to drive, read, recognize faces or perform day-to-day tasks.

The Comparison of AMD Treatments Trials (CATT) was designed to compare Avastin and Lucentis. "Therapies for AMD require repeated treatment to prevent vision loss. Results of this clinical trial provide evidence that long-term treatment with either drug results in lasting improvement in vision. Patients and doctors now have valuable information to base treatment decisions," said Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Eye Institute (NEI).

Patients should talk to their eye care professional about the right treatment for their AMD.

More information is available on the NEI website.

This page last reviewed on April 7, 2016