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Mulqueeny Eye Centers - Blog

New Genetic Testing Available for Age-Related Macular Degeneration

March 16, 2012 @ 03:46 PM -- by Sean Mulqueeny, O.D.

New Genetic Testing Available for Age-Related Macular Degeneration

 

A new breakthrough technology in genetic testing for patients who have been diagnosed with early or intermediate stage Age-Related Macular Degeneration is now available.  The test, called Macula Risk®, can predict the likelihood of developing the advanced form of the disease with an accuracy that has never before been available.  In the past, if someone was diagnosed with AMD, it was impossible for doctors to tell who was at risk for severe vision loss versus those whose disease would remain mild. 

Macula Risk® is a DNA test performed in our office with a simple cheek swab.  The test determines your risk of losing vision from AMD by detecting eight variations within four different genes that are known to be indicators for risk of vision loss.  Once the test is performed, the swabs are submitted for analysis along with your history of smoking, (smoking almost doubles your risk of developing AMD).  Macula Risk® rates your risk of progression to vision loss on a scale of 1 to 5, one being the lowest risk and five being at high risk.

Once the results are received, you will have an opportunity to discuss your results with your eye care professional who will personalize a monitoring and/or treatment program that you can take to decrease your risk.

If you already have vision loss or advanced AMD, the Macula Risk® genetic assessment is still a test you should consider as it will identify if you carry the gene for developing the disease.  This is important information for your family in identifying if they are at risk.

Contact our office today to see if you qualify for the Macula Risk® genetic testing.  Medical insurance will typically cover the cost of the test provided that you have been diagnosed with early or intermediate AMD.

Remember, early detection and prevention is the key to a lifetime of good vision!

 

What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)?

AMD is a progressive disease that affects the macula, the part of the eye that is responsible for fine detail and central vision.  As the disease progresses, patients lose their central vision while maintaining their peripheral (side) vision.  Losing central vision can impair your ability to perform daily tasks such as reading, driving or watching television.

Statistics show that one in ten people will lose vision from AMD in their lifetime.  And of these people, an additional 20% will progress to advanced macular degeneration and without treatment; visual loss can be devastating and life changing.

 

Who is at Risk for developing Macular Degeneration?

Age and genetics account for over 70% of the risk for developing AMD.  If you have an immediate family member- mother, father, brother or sister - who has the disease, you are 50% more likely to develop it in your lifetime.

Other risk factors include the following: 

  • Body Mass Index
  • Gender
  • Poor Diet
  • High Blood Pressure/Heart Disease
  • Race
  • Smoking

Though there are some risk factors that we don’t have control over, such as family history, age, gender or race, risk factors such as smoking and diet are two that we have control over to reduce the risk of developing AMD.

 

Diagnosis and Prevention of AMD

If you have two or more of the risk factors listed above, you should schedule an appointment for a full evaluation with your eye doctor.  There are certain diagnostic tests that are now available to assess your risk of developing macular degeneration.  And, if you are found to be at significant risk, there are preventative measures such as eating a healthy diet rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, supplements such as EyePromise ReStore, smoking cessation, etc. that can help reduce your risk of vision loss from AMD.