Macular degeneration is an incurable eye disease that is the leading cause of blindness for those aged 55 and older in the United States, affecting more than 10 million Americans.
Macular degeneration is caused by the deterioration of the central portion of the retina, the inside back layer of the eye that records the images we see and sends them via the optic nerve from the eye to the brain. The retina's central portion, known as the macula, is responsible for focusing central vision in the eye, and it controls our ability to read, drive a car, recognize faces or colors, and see objects in fine detail.
As people age, their chances for developing eye diseases increase dramatically. Unfortunately, the specific factors that cause macular degeneration are not conclusively known and research into this little-understood disease is limited by insufficient funding.