Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) remains the number one cause of blindness for people 50 years and older in the United States. There are are currently no known cures for AMD or FDA-approved medications for the treatment of AMD.
AMD results from drusen buildup just below the retina causing macular degeneration. Symptoms of AMD include impaired central vision, which could lead to significant and irreversible vision loss.
Scientists have suspected that AMD development could be linked to local inflammatory biomarkers or even innate immunity. Others have found that a more simpler explanation, such as free radical development or an antioxidant deficiency could lead to macular degeneration over time.
Researchers have identified a few inflammatory biomarkers, which can help medical professionals better understand the pathogenesis of macular degeneration. Across multiple case-studies, scientists have discovered numerous single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) at the complement factor H (CFH). According to an interview with Gregory Hagemen, genetic association between macular degeneration and CFH was over found in over 50% of group of people involved in his controlled study group. This frequency of genetic association is rare to say the least. An altered CHF gene is responsible for the distribution of drusen through the bloodstream and the buildup of drusen on the Bruch’s membrane.
Endogenous intra- and extracellular matrix damage has also been shown to create local inflammatory responses that disrupt hemostasis potentially leading to advanced macular degeneration or wet AMD.
Researchers from SUNY Downstate have recently been awarded research grants to identify the biomarkers associated with these local inflammatory responses to help scientists diagnose and treat AMD earlier.
One way scientists have proposed treating symptoms of AMD is by researching the effect that carotenoids and anti-inflammatory nutrients have on macular degeneration. Researchers have identified vitamins E and C, as well as lutein, zeaxanthin, and saffron as potential antiinflammatory and antioxidant agents that are effective in treating and even reversing symptoms of AMD.
Saffron 2020, which contains all of these vitamins and minerals, was recently backed by Health Canada as an effective medicine in reducing the risk of developing AMD and maintaining eye health.
Other dietary supplements, such as zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D, have proven effective in preventing the development of AMD and stopping its progression. One recommendation nutritionists have given for the prevention of AMD is by sticking to a mediterranean diet rich in leafy vegetables and fatty fishes.
Scientists have also been looking toward the role of lipid buildup in the progression of AMD. High blood pressure, atherosclerosis, and cardiovascular disease have many of the same associated biomarkers as AMD and many researchers have hypothesized that AMD could either be an extension or result of other chronic age-related disorders.
With new research, the door is being opened toward identifying the biomarkers associated with AMD and producing treatment that could stop and reverse the progression for AMD in a rapidly aging populace.
Many organizations and independent researchers are conducting studies to determine if dietary modifications can reduce a person’s risk of macular degeneration and vision loss associated with the condition.