NIH Launches International Study of AMD Progression

Natural history investigation will deploy latest advances to identify biomarkers, targets for early therapy
A new clinical study led by the National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the National Institutes of Health, will follow 500 people over five years to learn more about the natural history of early age-related macular degeneration (AMD). By using the latest technologies to visualize structures within the eye and measure their function, researchers hope to identify biomarkers of disease progression, well before it advances to late-stage disease and causes vision loss.
The AMD Ryan Initiative Study (ARIS) will track the eye health of 400 people who have bilateral early AMD. For comparison, the study will enroll 100 age-matched, control participants with healthy retinas.
All participants will undergo routine examinations, including imaging, light sensitivity, dark adaptation, and visual acuity. Ideally, the investigators would also like to analyze the participants’ DNA to look for correlations between genes and AMD progression.
“The findings will contribute to our understanding of the underlying biology driving the transition from early to late-stage disease so that therapies can be developed to halt its progression,” said the study’s lead investigator, Emily Y. Chew, M.D., deputy clinical director at NEI and director of the NEI Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Applications. “Treatments that halt the disease at its early stage would have an enormous public health impact…We want to better leverage advances in genetics, imaging and visual functioning tests so we can look at early stage disease [more closely]. There may be [signs] of an individual’s risk of developing late-stage disease long before the disease progresses”.
The clinical study is funded by NEI, with study sites located throughout the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany and Italy. For more information, or to enroll in ARIS, visit
NIH press release