During the past few years systematic investigation into the epidemiology, genetics, and pathophysiology of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) has provided important new insight into this leading cause of vision loss in older persons. These studies provide a view of AMD as a complex trait influenced by well-established genetic and environmental risks that leads to the deposition of inflammatory deposits in the outer retina. This maculopathy leads to visual dysfunction through a variety of mechanisms and complications that can be observed in both humans and animal models. In this review, the risks associated with AMD in humans and the animal models used to study AMD and its complications will be summarized. No effort has been made to perform a comprehensive citation of all areas of AMD genetics and animal models, but rather a selection of observations and supporting references illustrative of the current state of the field is presented.