Like many diseases, causes for age-related macular degeneration can be categorized as either “nature” or “nurture”. Researchers think these factors, when used in the proper model, can be strong predictors of the disease.
Age-related macular degeneration is a disease associated with aging that gradually destroys sharp, central vision. Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in Americans 60 years of age and older.
A study shows that multiple genetic, ocular and environmental factors, including six genetic variants, age, smoking and body mass index heavily contribute to the incidence of macular degeneration. Because all of these factors are related to macular degeneration, they were combined and used to develop a predictive and possibly diagnostic model.
Over 1,400 individuals in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) with an average follow-up time of 6.3 years were evaluated, and genetic specimens were genotyped in the collaborator’s lab in Boston.
Their research also shows that although age-related macular degeneration has a strong genetic component, healthy behaviors can modify your genetic susceptibility. For example, among individuals with one genotype, the homozygous C3 risk genotype, the likelihood of progression to the advanced form of age-related macular degeneration increased from about three-fold for nonsmokers to nearly 10-fold for smokers.
1. Johanna M. Seddon, et al. Prediction Model for Prevalence and Incidence of Advanced Age-Related Macular Degeneration Based on Genetic, Demographic, and Environmental Variables. Originally published In Press as doi:10.1167/iovs.08-3064 on December 30, 2008 Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science. 2009;50:2044-2053.