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Monday 24th October 2016

Early treatment could aid eye disease

14th December 2010

Elderly people who suffer from age-related macular degeneration (AMD) could benefit from earlier treatment, according to a recent Icelandic study.

Eye2Study author Fridbert Jonasson of Landspitali University Hospital and the University of Iceland said there was evidence that some of the eye lesions that caused AMD were preventable.

He said that specialists needed to catch macular degeneration early in order to begin treating people, and that preventative treatment could hopefully reduce people's risk of late AMD.

AMD is caused when blood vessels begin to grow abnormally behind the retina.

It can also be caused by a breakdown in the cells that turn light into an electrochemical signal, ultimately powering human vision.

The macula is the part of the eye that sees what is directly in front of itself.

There are various ways in which it can degenerate, and hence different types of AMD are classified as either 'dry' or 'wet.'

Scar-tissue formation is a crucial part of all forms of AMD.

For the recent study, the researchers collated about 5,250 images of people's eyes.

All of the people whose eyes had been photographed lived around Reykjavik.

The researchers wanted to find out how many of the country's oldest citizens had signs of AMD.

After examining the photographs in detail, the researchers concluded that 11% of all the people in their late 60s whose eyes had been photographed had early AMD.

In people 85 and older, 36% had signs of early AMD.

Late AMD also increased with age, and up to 11% of all people 85 and older had signs of it.

Jonasson said he was surprised at the prevalence of late AMD among Reykjavik's oldest citizens.

He said that, although researchers were aware that late AMD was an age-related condition, he was surprised that the statistical likelihood of having late AMD increased by a factor of 10 between the ages of about 70 and 85.

Since the rate of AMD predicted by the recent study exceeds previous estimates, Jonasson said that Icelanders may be more at risk due to their relatively low levels of pigmentation.

He said several studies had shown people with black skin were less likely to develop late AMD than whites.

Stuart Richer, of the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & Science, said that people from Iceland did not get many dark, leafy vegetables in their diets, and that this could also be linked with higher AMD rates.


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