Age-related macular degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss in America today. AMD is a disease of aging that affects the macula, the region of the retina responsible for sharp, central vision. AMD occurs in two forms: dry (or atrophic) and wet (or neovascular). Atrophic macular degeneration accounts for more than 85% of patients diagnosed with AMD, which affects more than 10 million Americans. Due to the rapid aging of the US population, this number will increase dramatically by 2020. Early and intermediate forms of dry/atrophic AMD are the most common forms; however, progression of dry AMD into one of two advanced forms of the disease leads to blindness. Advanced wet AMD occurs when abnormal blood vessels behind the retina start to grow under the macula and leak blood and fluid.
Research across disciplines has led to the development of effective drugs for wet AMD that, for the first time in history, can improve vision in these patients. Advanced dry/atrophic AMD, also known as geographic atrophy, results in extensive loss of the retinal pigment epithelium in the macula and overlying photoreceptors. Despite advances in the treatment of wet AMD, no such effective treatments are available for atrophic AMD. However, bringing together great scientists and innovative new technologies from different disciplines has the potential for unprecedented success.