Age-related maculopathy (ARM) remains a poorly understood degeneration. To discover new pathways using contemporary genomics, proteomics, and immunohistochemistry, validate emerging animal models, and validate new imaging modalities, human tissues obtained from donor eyes will be essential to ARM research for the foreseeable future. Because fundus appearance is the clinical diagnostic lingua franca, laboratory investigators adapted these standards to the distinctive appearance of post-mortem tissues in order to identify and stage ARM in donor eyes. Post-mortem tissues offer unique advantages and limitations relative to pre-mortem tissues for imaging studies. One fellow eye can be used for imaging and the other for correlative laboratory studies, if some degree of disease stage asymmetry between eyes is acceptable. Histological verification is a necessary, albeit challenging, step in validating a grading system. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.