Wet Age Related Macular Degeneration
All In The Genes
Researchers at Yale School of Medicine recently revealed that patients subject to the more damaging form of macular degeneration, age related wet macular degeneration (AMD) may be predisposed to the condition. The researchers discovered a gene variant that may increase one's risk of developing the more serious condition AMD.
AMD And Its Effects
Age related macular degeneration or AMD results when the light-sensitive cells in the retina of the eye break down. This eventually results in loss of an individual's central vision. While dry macular degeneration is more common then wet, wet is much more serious and often leads to blindness in patients.
Researchers working at the Departments of Epidemiology & Public Health and Ophthalmology at Yale recently performed two studies that identified a gene for dry and for wet macular degeneration. This gene variant may place one more at risk for developing wet macular degeneration. It is associated with the CFH gene on chromosome 1.
The researchers report a small change or variant in the regulatory part of the HTRA1 gene on chromosome 10 may lead to an increased risk of developing wet AMD. Compounding one's risk are other factors including the ability of a patient to build up waste deposits in the eye the researchers refer to as "drusen."
Caucasian patients are more at risk than others it seems for developing this condition, in part because they tend to store larger waste deposits or drusen than patients with other ethnicities.
According to the study, patients with the gene variant were up to 10 times as likely to develop wet AMD than those without the gene variant. The good news is this finding can lead to future research on the specific gene responsible for wet AMD.
Future research will concentrate on examining HTRA1 and discovering how it affects patients with time. Researchers have more work to do to uncover the clinical features of the genes related to AMD. While there is currently no cure for wet AMD, researchers are now finding new ways to slow its progression, offering some hope for patients suffering from this debilitating condition.
Researchers have yet to understand the biological mechanisms that result in wet AMD even among those with the gene variant. Future research will also focus on understanding the biological mechanisms that cause wet AMD to develop in patients with the HTRA1 variant.
Meanwhile, if you suffer from partial vision loss or other problems associated with AMD, make sure you visit your eye doctor regularly for care. There are many effective treatments available for patients with AMD that can improve vision somewhat or help slow disease progression.
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