Background

The Stephen J. Ryan Initiative for Macular Research (RIMR), an evolution of the Beckman Initiative for Macular Research, was the brainchild of a visionary in our field, the late Dr. Stephen Ryan. The RIMR program brings together outstanding basic scientists, engineers, medical researchers, and clinicians to develop a better understanding of age-related atrophic macular degeneration (AMD), with the ultimate goal of finding a cure. By sharing their diverse perspectives in interdisciplinary discussions and research collaborations, the work of RIMR participants has led to new ideas and innovations in diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for AMD, a disease that remains the number one cause of visual impairment and blindness in older Americans.

AMD is a leading cause of vision loss among people age 50 and older. It causes damage to the macula, a small spot near the center of the retina and the part of the eye needed for sharp, central vision. Age is a major risk factor for AMD. The disease is most likely to occur after age 60, but it can occur earlier. AMD by itself does not lead to complete blindness. However, the loss of central vision in AMD can interfere with simple everyday activities, such as the ability to see faces, drive, read, or write. (Excerpt from the National Eye Institute’s Facts About Age-related Macular Degeneration).