Skip navigation
C. Understanding the Cause and Effect of Macular Degeneration

Narrator: This is Science Today. Age-related macular degeneration is a disease that leads to loss of central vision and affects up to ten percent of people over sixty. Lincoln Johnson, a researcher at the University of California, Santa Barbara's Center for the Study of Macular Degeneration, says the central visual field is what you use for watching TV, reading a book or looking at a person's face.

Johnson: That light from that person's face hits a part of your retina called the macula and it's the most sensitive part of your retina. The cells there that sense light die and then you're left with a big dark grey to black hole in the middle of your field.

Narrator: Johnson has discovered that the same molecules present in the brain plaques of patients with Alzheimer's disease are also found in abnormal deposits in the eye called drusen. These are present in patients with macular degeneration.

Johnson: So that's what we have now - a candidate to trigger this inflammatory response, which causes downstream damage to additional cells that are normal and are thus causing the disease to progress.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.