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New Genetic Testing for Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)



AMD is the most common cause of visual impairment and the leading cause of blindness in the elderly population in the developed world. It is estimated that AMD currently affects approximately 15 million people in the United States and is a leading cause of vision loss in Americans aged 60 and over. Advanced AMD represents 10 to 15% of all AMD cases and is estimated to affect at least 1.75 million patients in the US.1 Advanced stage AMD can be either the dry form, or neovascular, “wet AMD” which causes loss of central vision.

Dr. David Geffen of Gordon-Weiss-Schanzlin Vision Institute is now offering genetic testing to determine future individual risk of developing advanced AMD, or for those already diagnosed with early or intermediate AMD, a patient’s risk for developing wet AMD.

Genetics are highly influential with up to 71% heritability of Advanced AMD.2 Genetic variables can much more accurately predict risk of AMD and allow for individualized treatment and patient management. Dr. Geffen says, “I recommend the retina gene testing to help in the early detection and prevention of visual loss due to macular degeneration, one of the most common causes of legal blindness in the United States today.”

The test is quick and simple. A sterile swab is used to collect a genetic sample by rubbing it against the inside of both checks for 30 seconds each. The specimen is sent to a lab for evaluation of 8 to 12 genetic markers associated with the risk of AMD.

According to Dr. Geffen, “Early treatment includes, nutraceuticals to slow down the advancement of AMD. Research has shown that we can reduce the changes in the macula with ultraviolet light absorbing glasses.  We can also minimize damage caused by blue-light emissions with blue blocking lenses.  In terms of advanced AMD, shots within the eye can deliver medication, to slow progression of macular changes even with leaking vessels.”