Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is responsible for the majority of visual impairment in the Western world. Epidemiological studies examining risk factors for AMD are needed to develop strategies for the prevention of blindness from this condition. A number of potentially modifiable risk factors for AMD have been identified; however, only smoking has been a consistent risk factor across the numerous studies. A growing body of evidence suggests that AMD and cardiovascular disease may have common risk factors. The Cardiovascular Health and Age Related Maculopathy (CHARM) Study was established to examine the risk factors for AMD and its progression, in particular risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease. Examining risk factors for prevalent AMD, cases with AMD were compared with age and gender matched controls with no AMD features. For the assessment of AMD progression, the study examined in 2001 and 2002 those participants with early AMD, or age-related maculopathy (ARM), who had undergone baseline examination between 1992 and 1995 and compared the characteristics of those who had progression of AMD with those who did not. The CHARM study involved both ophthalmic and cardiovascular examinations. Standardised clinical eye examination and grading of the macular stereo photographs were used to determine the AMD status and progression. To examine cardiovascular status, carotid artery ultrasound imaging analysis of systemic arterial compliance, augmentation index and pulse wave velocity were performed. The traditional and novel risk factors for CVD such as levels of glucose, cholesterol, high density lipoprotein cholesterol, low density lipoprotein cholesterol, fibrinogen, C-reactive protein, immunoglobulins A and M, homocysteine, oxidized LDL and the exposure to the Chlamydia Pneumonia infection were determined. DNA was collected for apolipoprotein E genotyping. The present paper outlines the primary aims of the CHARM study, the methodology involved and the recruitment results.