Our AMD Research

Age-related macular degeneration, often called AMD, is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness among Americans who are age 65 and older. As the leading edge of the Baby Boom approaches retirement, vision loss from macular degeneration will affect a rapidly growing segment of the U.S. population.

Research conducted at the John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics (HIHG) suggests that AMD is the result of complex interactions between multiple environmental and genetic risk factors. Specifically, researchers have noted a strong association between development of AMD and the presence of a variant of a gene known as complement factor H (CFH) In 2005, HIHG director, Margaret A. Pericak-Vance, Ph.D., and her collaborators, identified complement factor H (CFH) as a risk factor for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which accounts for about 50% of an individual’s risk for developing AMD. This gene deficiency is associated with almost half of all potentially blinding cases of macular degeneration.

Environmental factors like diet and smoking may trigger the development of AMD and determine how fast the condition progresses. Identification of these genetic and environmental risk factors is the first step towards earlier detection, prevention, and in the future, better treatments.