New Discovery May Lead to Better Eye Disease Screening

Prediction Model

Researchers from Tufts have created a predictive method to identify one’s risk for development of macular degeneration (AMD) based on data gathered from 1,446 subjects in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS).  The study evaluates  ocular, genetic, and environmental information and the effectiveness of  predictive methods of identifying AMD and AMD risk.

Researchers looked at gender, age, level of education, whether participants smoked and for how long/much, the participants’ body mass index, and whether participants supplemented with nutrients (zinc and antioxidants) to slow AMD development.

Although genetics play a large part in who will get AMD, there are lifestyle choices that can greatly influence a person’s risks for AMD.  Researchers found that among individuals with one particular genotype (homozygous C3 risk genotype), the chance of suffering from the advanced form of AMD increased from approximately three times the risk for nonsmokers to almost 10 times the risk for smokers.

Study authors hope that learning more about how to predict who is at risk for AMD will give doctors and patients better information about how to better treat and even help prevent AMD.

Published:  Prediction Model for Prevalence and Incidence of Advanced Age-Related Macular Degeneration Based on Genetic, Demographic, and Environmental Variables, Seddon, et al, Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science. 2009;50:2044-2053.

Detection based on photoreceptor cells.

Australian scientists may have made a discovery that could lead to the development of better tests to detect eye diseases like glaucoma and macular degeneration.  Research published in  the Journal of Vision suggests that color sensing cells in retina, which were previously believed to be able to only respond to specific colors, can also detect black and white moving objects as well.  According to lead researcher Paul Martin: “For a long time we’ve had an image of the brain as a kind of computer, with particular pathways or ‘wires’ for particular nerve signals.  Now, it is becoming clear the wiring is a lot less precise than a computer.”

What might this mean for you when its time to be screened for eye disease?  Discoveries like this one help scientists better understand how cells in the eyes respond to stimuli, and the more they know about how the eye works, the more able they are to improve eye testing procedures and technologies.

Source: ABC Science