After age 80, one person in four suffers from age-related macular degeneration (ARMD). People with ARMD gradually lose the ability to read, recognize their children's faces, and even watch TV. According to Hélène Boisjoly, Director of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Montréal, "ARMD is a major problem since it is the major cause of blindness in North Americans aged 50 and over."
Boisjoly's Department of Ophthalmology is a member of the Vision Research Network (VRN), which also includes researchers from Laval University, UQTR, and McGill University. Launched in 1996, VRN is trying to determine why ARMD damages the macula, a small section of the retina that allows people to see what's directly in front of them.
Researchers know that one of the main effects of ARMD is the formation of abnormal blood vessels under the macula, which prevent it from working normally and interfere with central vision. However, no one knows what causes this anomaly. New medical-imaging equipment acquired with the support of the Canada Foundation for Innovation should help VRN researchers shed some light on this mysterious disease.