Potential for AMD to be identified before vision deteriorates

Large UK study finds those with healthy eyes had thinner retinas if they carried genes that put them at risk of age-related macular degeneration

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A new study could help to identify those at risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) before visual symptoms develop.

Scientists at the University of Southampton, King's College London and Moorfields Eye Hospital examined the records of 30,000 individuals who had retinal scans and genetic data stored in the UK Biobank.

Describing their findings in Scientific Reports, the researchers highlighted that those with healthy eyes and no history of AMD had thinner retinas if they carried genes that put them at risk of the disease.

The authors highlighted that most treatments for AMD only start when patients already have severe problems with their eyesight.

“These results help us understand the very early stages of the disease, before it is clinically apparent. If we can intervene at an earlier stage, we are more likely to be able to preserve sight,” they shared.

Identifying those at risk of AMD earlier would enable clinicians to encourage patients to make lifestyle changes in order to mitigate this risk.

Professor of ophthalmology at the University of Southampton, Andrew Lotery, shared: “Changing to a Mediterranean style diet, exercising more and stopping smoking can help prevent the progression of the disease.”