Most people would probably name glaucoma and cataracts as the most common causes of vision impairment. However, new research shows that a less familiar eye disease is most responsible for vision loss and has been so for the past two decades. According to a study of 5,000 individuals, 44% of those with severe visual impairment suffered from late age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Researchers noted that rates of this condition have changed little over the past 20 years, and many people do not know what it is. The disease, which causes deterioration of the central part of the retina (macula), may be caused by smoking, oxidative stress, high blood pressure, and/or abnormal cholesterol. The risk of AMD also increases with age. There is no cure for AMD, but AMD treatments may prevent severe vision loss or slow the progression of the disease. Because most people are not aware they have age-related macular degeneration until they have noticeable symptoms or until it is detected during an eye examination, it is vitally important to have your eyes examined on a regular basis.