Macular degenerations (MD), age-related or inherited, interfere with the ability to read, drive and recognize faces. Understanding this class of diseases has been challenging because the mouse, the mammal most amenable to genetic manipulation, lacks a macula. Here we discuss whether we can model MD in the mouse, present criteria for an 'ideal' mouse model of MD and discuss how mouse models have contributed to our knowledge of MD by contrasting how well they meet the 'ideal' criteria with how informative they have actually been. By modeling MD in mice, we can learn about aspects of MD that an animal with a macula would be unable to teach us.
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