PURPOSE To provide an over-view of progress in the epidemiology of age-related macular degeneration.
METHODS Review of epidemiological and clinical trial findings regarding AMD since initial National Eye Institute sponsored epidemiology meeting in 1982.
RESULTS A growing number new epidemiological studies have provided data on the prevalence and long-term incidence of AMD. Despite a similar prevalence of early AMD in whites, blacks, and hispanics, whites have higher prevalence of late AMD. An age-period cohort effect has been shown in the Beaver Dam Eye Study suggesting that AMD incidence may be declining among younger birth cohorts. Genetic factors such as complement factor H have been shown to be strongly associated with AMD. Smoking is strongly related to risk of AMD. Randomized controlled clinical trials have shown the benefits of zinc-antioxidant supplementation in preventing visual loss in persons with signs of early AMD and anti-vascular endothelial growth factor agents in restoring vision in eyes with neovascular AMD.
CONCLUSIONS Despite remarkable progress in understanding AMD, many questions remain that can only be addressed by continuation of longitudinal population-based studies.