Increased lead levels found in neural retinas of eyes with AMD

Reported in the Amer. Journal of Ophthalmolgy:

Patients with age-related macular degeneration may have elevated lead levels in their neural retinas, suggesting a diminished capacity to eliminate the harmful metal compared with patients without the retinal pathology.

In a laboratory comparison, 50 donor eyes from 25 subjects diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration during their lifetimes exhibited higher lead concentrations in their neural retinas (median, 12 ng/g) compared with 72 donor eyes of 36 subjects without AMD (8 ng/g).

There was no difference in lead concentration in the retinal pigment epithelium-choroid complex. Also, there was no difference in cadmium levels, another nonessential metal known to cause oxidative stress, in either the neural retina or RPE-choroid complex.

According to the study, accumulation of lead in the neural retina is associated with AMD, although it is unclear what the exact role, if any, the metal plays in the pathogenesis of AMD. As well, the study authors said, future work should investigate the role of metal homeostasis in retinal function.


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