Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of irreversible severe visual loss in the United States in people over 50 years of age. The nonexudative stage includes hard drusen (associated with localized dysfunction of the retinal pigment epithelium [RPE]), soft drusen (associated with diffuse dysfunction of the RPE), and geographic (areolar) atrophy. These fundus changes may predispose the eye to develop the neovascular/exudative stages of AMD. Most patients who develop severe visual loss from AMD have this exudative stage. Treatment for AMD has been shown to be effective for only a small proportion of patients who have a well-defined choroidal neovascular membrane (CNVM) more than 200 microns from the foveal center. Even in successfully treated cases, severe visual loss is postponed only for about 18 months because of the high rate of recurrent CNVMs that extend into the fovea. Thus, despite recent breakthroughs in laser treatment for AMD, most patients who develop the exudative form of AMD will develop central visual impairment. At the present time, the only available treatments for the majority of patients who develop the exudative form of AMD are low vision aids. Investigators are currently evaluating whether treatment is effective for membranes within 200 microns of the foveal center. Future studies need to be directed toward further understanding of the pathogenesis, treatment and prevention of the blinding complications of AMD.