Tackling Age-Related Vision Loss: New Genetic Discovery Makes Strides

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Anyone who knows the term age-related macular degeneration is likely cringing as they read this, as it’s such a big problem that doesn’t seem to have a decent solution. It’s one of the most common causes of vision loss among older adults, and it can be extremely tricky to treat. In fact, if people suffer from early AMD, there’s technically no cure. The only thing the doctor can do is to keep track of how you’re doing and try to help you with lifestyle changes.

Such is the reason why it’s such a big deal that the NEI (the National Eye Institute) was able to identify genetic variants that could potentially lead to breakthroughs concerning the treatment of age-related macular degeneration. The findings were published in iScience by NEI and talks about how these genetic variants end up creating proteins that could potentially cause inflammation of the retina.

Age-Related Vision Loss
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Deepening the understanding of age-related macular degeneration

Currently, scientists understand that some genetic variants can affect the risk of individuals getting AMD, but there hasn’t been much headway as far as common causes. So instead, the study’s author, Anand Swaroop, Ph.D., sought to explore even rarer variants that can help them track the disease across multiple generations in the hopes that they can find clues that lead to better forms of treatment for AMD. It turns out they were correct.

They found two proteins that were seen to potentially be the driving force behind age-related macular degeneration in the affected individuals. Swaroop hopes these proteins could eventually be targeted and used as a basis for drugs that can actually make a dent in AMD treatment.

The problem with general treatment

One of the primary issues of AMD is that the wet variant’s only treatment involves slowing the symptoms. Wet AMD always leads to serious vision loss, and it’s something that can’t be reversed. On the other hand, dry AMD is much more common but slower to progress. The troubling thing is that dry AMD can and often will progress to wet AMD if you aren’t careful.

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There are some interventions for dry AMD, but this new genetic discovery could lead to a potential treatment plan that reverses and clears AMD altogether. Currently, it’s still in the early stages, which means more research is necessary if any progress is to be made concerning the pathology of the disease.

At the end of the day, AMD is a troublesome condition that can lead to serious vision loss even if you do everything in your power to try to slow the symptoms. When the dry variant evolves into wet AMD, things take a drastic turn. By working to reveal the root cause of the disease based on the proteins, Swaroop hopes to improve the way AMD is treated—giving hope to those who suffer from both dry and wet AMD. It seems like a hopeless situation for the sufferers, but there are always strides being made that could potentially lead to more breakthroughs in the future.