AMD patients at heightened risk of COVID-19

Common genetic risk factors mean that AMD patients have a higher risk of catching COVID-19 – and the disease is likely to be more severe

Unsplash/Warren Umoh

Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BU) in the US have found that COVID-19 and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) share common genetic risk factors.

The study, which was published in Journal of Clinical Medicine, adds to a body of research suggesting that AMD heightens the risk that a patient will contract COVID-19 and that they will develop a severe form of the disease if infected.

Previous studies have found that AMD patients have a higher risk of severe complications associated with COVID-19 than those with Type 2 diabetes or obese patients.

BU scientists examined the genome for variants that are associated both with AMD and COVID-19 infection, critical illness, and hospitalisation.

The researchers found that both diseases were linked to variants in a gene that codes for a platelet derived growth factor.

This growth factor plays a role in the formation of new blood vessels and is involved in abnormal blood vessel formation in AMD.

Study author, Dr Lindsay Farrer, shared: “Our findings add to the body of evidence for the increased risk of infection and mortality from COVID-19 among AMD patients. Our analysis lends credence to previously reported clinical studies that found those with AMD have a higher risk for COVID-19 infection and severe disease, and that this increased risk may have a genetic basis.”