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Macular degeneration involves the deterioration of the macula, a small area in the retina at the back of the eye.
When the macula is compromised, problems with central vision - such as blurriness, dark areas or distortion - can occur. For many people, macular degeneration makes activities such as reading and driving, or even seeing faces, difficult or impossible.
There are different kinds of macular degeneration, but age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common.
AMD is the leading cause of severe vision loss in the developed world. It affects an estimated one million Canadians.
The cause of AMD is unknown, but smoking, a family history of AMD, female gender, advanced age, and lighter skin colour are all considered significant risk factors.
AMD is far more common in people over the age of 50, although it can affect people at a younger age.
Given the aging of Canada's population, AMD is becoming a looming public health issue.
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