Nature and nurture- genes and environment- predict onset and progression of macular degeneration

Date Published:

2014 May


Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common cause of irreversible visual loss and the disease burden is rising world-wide as the population ages. Both environmental and genetic factors contribute to the development of this disease. Among environmental factors, smoking, obesity and dietary factors including antioxidants and dietary fat intake influence onset and progression of AMD. There are also several lines of evidence that link cardiovascular, immune and inflammatory biomarkers to AMD. The genetic etiology of AMD has been and continues to be an intense and fruitful area of investigation. Genome-wide association studies have revealed numerous common variants associated with AMD and sequencing is increasing our knowledge of how rare genetic variants strongly impact disease. Evidence for interactions between environmental, therapeutic and genetic factors is emerging and elucidating the mechanisms of this interplay remains a major challenge in the field. Genotype-phenotype associations are evolving. The knowledge of non-genetic, modifiable risk factors along with information about heritability and genetic risk variants for this disease acquired over the past 25 years have greatly improved patient management and our ability to predict which patients will develop or progress to advanced forms of AMD. Personalized medicine and individualized prevention and treatment strategies may become a reality in the near future.

Last updated on 11/13/2018