The central retina mediates high acuity vision, and its progressive dysfunction due to macular degeneration is the leading cause of visual disability among adults in industrialized societies. Here, we summarize recent progress in understanding the pathophysiology of macular degeneration and the implications of this new knowledge for treatment and prevention. The past decade has witnessed remarkable advances in this field, including the development of new, non-invasive retinal imaging technologies, the development of animal models for macular disease, and the isolation of many of the genes responsible for both early- and late-onset macular diseases. These advances have set the stage for the development of effective mechanism-based therapies.
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