Use of ophthalmic telemedicine for patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) has shown remarkable advances over recent years. The recent COVID pandemic accelerated this transition since in-person evaluation of elderly patients at high risk for advanced AMD and severe vision loss were also at higher risk for complications from COVID infection. To date, ophthalmic telemedicine has been successfully used in remote retinal consultation by general ophthalmologists for AMD management, hybrid testing visits with both in-office testing and remote evaluation, as well as early successes in home-based remote monitoring of patients with high-risk AMD. We therefore review the current literature and evidence base related to ophthalmic telemedicine for AMD.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease that affects the macula - the central part of the retina. It is a leading cause of irreversible vision loss in the elderly. AMD onset is marked by the presence of lipid- and protein-rich extracellular deposits beneath the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), a monolayer of polarized, pigmented epithelial cells located between the photoreceptors and the choroidal blood supply. Progression of AMD to the late nonexudative "dry" stage of AMD, also called geographic atrophy, is linked to progressive loss of areas of the RPE, photoreceptors, and underlying choriocapillaris leading to a severe decline in patients' vision. Differential susceptibility of macular RPE in AMD and the lack of an anatomical macula in most lab animal models has promoted the use of in vitro models of the RPE. In addition, the need for high throughput platforms to test potential therapies has driven the creation and characterization of in vitro model systems that recapitulate morphologic and functional abnormalities associated with human AMD. These models range from spontaneously formed cell line ARPE19, immortalized cell lines such as hTERT-RPE1, RPE-J, and D407, to primary human (fetal or adult) or animal (mouse and pig) RPE cells, and embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) derived RPE. Hallmark RPE phenotypes, such as cobblestone morphology, pigmentation, and polarization, vary significantly betweendifferent models and culture conditions used in different labs, which would directly impact their usability for investigating different aspects of AMD biology. Here the AMD Disease Models task group of the Ryan Initiative for Macular Research (RIMR) provides a summary of several currently used in vitro RPE models, historical aspects of their development, RPE phenotypes that are attainable in these models, their ability to model different aspects of AMD pathophysiology, and pros/cons for their use in the RPE and AMD fields. In addition, due to the burgeoning use of iPSC derived RPE cells, the critical need for developing standards for differentiating and rigorously characterizing RPE cell appearance, morphology, and function are discussed.
PURPOSE: To investigate the inter-individual variability in duration of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) treatment effect in neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nvAMD). DESIGN: Prospective observational multi-centered study. PARTICIPANTS: Forty-eight patients with nvAMD treated with anti-VEGF injections were included. Both treatment naive (n=25) as well as patients who had previously received treatment with ranibizumab (n=23) more than one month prior to their enrollment were recruited. METHODS: Patients received injection with ranibizumab (0.5 mg/0.05 ml) and were followed weekly for 4 weeks with spectral-domain OCT (SD-OCT) assessing the time to maximal reduction of central retinal thickness (CRT) and the presence of intraretinal and subretinal fluid. Other data collected included age, gender, visual acuity, axial length, lens status, and previous injections. The Shapiro-Wilk test was used to examine normal distributions for all variables. Correlations were examined by calculating Spearman's correlation coeficient. Distributions of quantitative variables are described as means (±SD). Qualitative variables are summarized by counts and percentage. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Time to maximal reduction of CRT and intra- and subretinal fluid after ranibizumab injection. RESULTS: A total of 48 eyes of 48 patients (age 74.8±8.3 years, 62.5% female, 52% treatment naive, 35.4% pseudophakic) were assessed. Two-thirds (64.6%) reached maximal CRT reduction earlier than the standard 4-week interval: 6.3% at 1 week postinjection, 22.9% at 2 weeks postinjection, and 35.4% at 3 weeks postinjection. Only 35.4% of patients had maximal CRT reduction at 4 weeks. Twenty percent of treatment-naive and 34.8% of non-naive patients had a week-4 CRT that was >35 μm thicker than the earlier occuring lowest CRT value (nadir). The time to maximal CRT reduction was not related to axial length, age, lens status, or history of injections. CONCLUSIONS: Optimal dosing interval for maximal CRT reduction may be less than 4 weeks for a significant proportion of patients. Most patients will be classified as complete responders if intervals less than 4 weeks are used to assess anti-VEGF treatment response. Disease load rather than eye size appears to be the driver of anti-VEGF treatment duration and therefore, dosing interval needs to be optimized in the cohort of short-term responders.
PURPOSE: To investigate the telescope use and driving patterns of bioptic drivers with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). METHODS: A questionnaire addressing telescope use and driving patterns was administered by telephone interview to three groups of bioptic drivers: AMD (n = 31; median 76 years); non-AMD first licensed with a bioptic (n = 38; 53 years); and non-AMD first licensed without a bioptic (n = 47; 37 years). Driving patterns of bioptic AMD drivers were also compared with those of normal vision (NV) drivers (n = 36; 74 years) and nonbioptic AMD drivers (n = 34; 79 years). RESULTS: Bioptic usage patterns of AMD drivers did not differ from those of the younger bioptic drivers and greater visual difficulty without the bioptic was strongly correlated with greater bioptic helpfulness. Bioptic AMD drivers were more likely to report avoidance of night driving than the age-similar NV drivers (P = 0.06). However, they reported less difficulty than the nonbioptic AMD drivers in all driving situations (P ≤ 0.02). Weekly mileages of bioptic AMD drivers were lower than those of the younger bioptic drivers (P < 0.001), but not the NV group (P = 0.54), and were higher than those of the nonbioptic AMD group (P < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that bioptic telescopes met the visual demands of drivers with AMD and that those drivers had relatively unrestricted driving habits. TRANSLATIONAL RELEVANCE: Licensure with a bioptic telescope may prolong driving of older adults with AMD; however, objective measures of bioptic use, driving performance, and safety are needed.
PURPOSE: To determine prevalence of probable polypoidal choroidal vasculopathy (PCV) among White patients with neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD) using non-indocyanine green angiography (ICGA) criteria DESIGN: Multicenter, multinational, retrospective, cross-sectional study. METHODS: A total of 208 treatment-naive eyes from Hispanic and non-Hispanic White individuals diagnosed with nAMD were included. All underwent color fundus photography (CFP), optical coherence tomography (OCT), and fluorescein angiography (FFA). De-identified images of study eyes were sent to 2 groups of graders. Group 1 reviewed CFP, OCT, and FFA to confirm nAMD diagnosis. Group 2 reviewed CFP and OCT to determine highly suggestive features for PCV. Probable PCV diagnosis defined as the presence of ≥2 of 4 highly suggestive features for PCV: notched or fibrovascular pigment epithelial detachment (PED) on CFP, sharply-peaked PED, notched PED, and hyperreflective ring on OCT. RESULTS: Eleven eyes were excluded because of poor image quality (6) or non-nAMD diagnosis (5). Of 197 eligible eyes (197 patients), the mean age (SD) was 78.8 years (8.9), 44.2% were men, 26.4% were Hispanic, and 73.6% were non-Hispanic White individuals; 41.1%, 23.4%, 9.1%, and 2.5% had ≥1, ≥2, ≥3, and 4 highly suggestive features. Results showed that 23.4% (95% CI, 17.6%-29.9%) had probable PCV diagnosis. Predominantly occult CNV was more frequently found in probable PCV than nAMD subgroup (84.8% vs 64.9%, P = .01). Hispanic White individuals had a lower prevalence of probable PCV than non-Hispanic White individuals (9.6% vs 28.2%, P = .006) CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that probable PCV occurs between 17.6% and 29.9% in White individuals with nAMD, and more commonly in non-Hispanic than in Hispanic White individuals.
Abnormal lipid metabolism has been linked to age-related macular degeneration (AMD); choroidal neovascularization in late AMD commonly causes blindness. Sene et al. (2013) now demonstrate that in aged macrophages decreased ABCA1 expression, regulated by liver X receptor and miR-33, impairs export of intracellular cholesterol, which promotes neovascular AMD.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of blindness in the elderly. AMD progression is associated with alterations in inflammatory pathways and the immune system. A new study identifies a protective role for inflammasomes in AMD, suggesting that inflammasome activation might be manipulated as a potential therapeutic strategy for this condition (pages 791-798).
PURPOSE: To describe the clinical course of uveitis-associated inflammatory papillitis and evaluate the utility and reproducibility of optic nerve spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT). METHODS: Data on 22 eyes of 14 patients with uveitis-related papillitis and optic nerve imaging were reviewed. SD-OCT measure reproducibility was determined and parameters were compared in active vs. inactive uveitis. RESULTS: Papillitis resolution lagged behind uveitis resolution in three patients. For SD-OCT measures, the intraclass correlation coefficients were 99.1-100% and 86.9-100% for intraobserver and interobserver reproducibility, respectively. All SD-OCT optic nerve measures except inferior and nasal peripapillary retinal thicknesses were significantly higher in active vs. inactive uveitis after correction for multiple hypotheses testing. Mean optic nerve central thickness decreased from 545.1 to 362.9 µm (p = 0.01). CONCLUSIONS: Resolution of inflammatory papillitis can lag behind resolution of uveitis. SD-OCT assessment of papillitis is reproducible and correlates with presence vs. resolution of uveitis.
PURPOSE: Macular diseases often lead to metamorphopsia, which is traditionally tested using the Amsler grid. This study evaluates a novel method for assessing metamorphopsia, based on the software AMD-A Metamorphopsia Detector, application MacuFix®. METHODS: In this observational study, the usability of a new smartphone-based testing method to assess metamorphopsia was evaluated in 45 patients experiencing metamorphopsia in at least one eye using the questionnaire "System Usability Score (SUS)." Additionally, the diagnostic adherence of self-monitoring with the Amsler grid was compared to self-monitoring with the novel software MacuFix®. RESULTS: The average score of the SUS questionnaire in this study was 76.7 ± 15.5, corresponding to the "good" score on the grading scale. The average interval between two home administered tests was significantly shorter (6 days) when the application was used as compared to using the Amsler grid (19 days). The odds ratio of the frequency of patients using the application to the patients using the home test was 4. CONCLUSION: MacuFix® application can help in effective home monitoring of macular function as high user satisfaction and increased testing frequency was observed in its use in patients with macular diseases.
EFEMP1 R345W is a dominant mutation causing Doyne honeycomb retinal dystrophy/malattia leventinese (DHRD/ML), a rare blinding disease with clinical pathology similar to age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Aged Efemp1 R345W/R345W knock-in mice (Efemp1ki/ki) develop microscopic deposits on the basal side of retinal pigment epithelial cells (RPE), an early feature in DHRD/ML and AMD. Here, we assessed the role of alternative complement pathway component factor B (FB) in the formation of these deposits. RNA-seq analysis of the posterior eyecups revealed increased unfolded protein response, decreased mitochondrial function in the neural retina (by 3 months of age) and increased inflammatory pathways in both neural retina and posterior eyecups (at 17 months of age) of Efemp1ki/ki mice compared with wild-type littermate controls. Proteomics analysis of eye lysates confirmed similar dysregulated pathways as detected by RNA-seq. Complement activation was increased in aged Efemp1ki/ki eyes with an approximately 2-fold elevation of complement breakdown products iC3b and Ba (P < 0.05). Deletion of the Cfb gene in female Efemp1ki/ki mice partially normalized the above dysregulated biological pathway changes and oral dosing of a small molecule FB inhibitor from 10 to 12 months of age reduced sub-RPE deposits by 65% (P = 0.029). In contrast, male Efemp1ki/ki mice had fewer sub-RPE deposits than age-matched females, no elevation of ocular complement activation and no effect of FB inhibition on sub-RPE deposits. The effects of FB deletion or inhibition on Efemp1ki/ki mice supports systemic inhibition of the alternative complement pathway as a potential treatment of dry AMD and DHRD/ML.
PURPOSE: To determine whether there is an association between response to intravitreal anti-vascular endothelial growth factor agents and genotype in patients with neovascular age-related macular degeneration. METHODS: Analysis of the current literature evaluating pharmacogenetics of treatment response in patients with neovascular age-related macular degeneration. RESULTS: Studies have demonstrated associations between various genotypes and response to intravitreal anti-vascular endothelial growth factor agents. Lower-risk genotypes of the CFH, ARMS2, HTRA1, and VEGF-A genes may be associated with improved visual outcomes. Additionally, frequency of injections may be associated with certain genotypes. CONCLUSION: Genetic background may influence an individual's response to treatment of neovascular age-related macular degeneration. Further studies to investigate biologic pathways of neovascular age-related macular degeneration and gene products that are directly involved might lead to better understanding of contribution of various genes to treatment response.
Purpose: Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) have been reported to improve the safety of elderly and normally sighted drivers. The purpose of this study was to assess exposure to, perceived safety of, comfort level with, and interest in using ADAS among drivers with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Methods: Current drivers aged 60+ years were recruited at four US sites to complete a survey about ADAS and driving habits. Frequency of use and/or perceptions of eight ADAS were investigated. An avoidance score was generated using questions about difficult driving situations. Results: The survey was completed by 166 participants (80 with AMD vs. 86 without). Participants with AMD had worse self-rated vision than those without (34% vs. 2% poor or fair rating), and drove fewer weekly miles (median [interquartile range [IQR] 30 [15 to 75] vs. 60 [30 to 121] miles, P = 0.002). Participants with AMD reported more avoidance of difficult driving situations (P < 0.001). There was no difference in the number of ADAS used by AMD status (median [IQR for AMD = 2.5 [1 to 5] vs. 3 [2 to 4] without, P = 0.87). Greater reported number of ADAS used was associated with less avoidance of difficult situations (P = 0.02). The majority perceived improved safety with most ADAS. Conclusions: Many drivers with AMD utilize common ADAS, which subjectively improve their road safety and may help to reduce self-imposed restrictions for difficult situations and mileage. Translational Relevance: Drivers with AMD are adopting readily available ADAS, for which they reported potential benefits, such as safety and less restrictive driving.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the elderly of industrialized nations, and there is increasing evidence to support a role for chronic inflammation in its pathogenesis. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) has been recently reported to be pro-inflammatory in various diseases such as Alzheimer's and heart failure. Here, we report that intracellular mtDNA induces ARPE-19 cells to secrete inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and IL-8, which have been consistently associated with AMD onset and progression. The induction was dependent on the size of mtDNA, but not on specific sequence. Oxidative stress plays a major role in the development of AMD, and our findings indicate that mtDNA induces IL-6 and IL-8 more potently when oxidized. Cytokine induction was mediated by STING (Stimulator of Interferon Genes) and NF-κB as evidenced by abrogation of the cytokine response with the use of specific inhibitors (siRNA and BAY 11-7082, respectively). Finally, mtDNA primed the NLRP3 inflammasome. This study contributes to our understanding of the potential pro-inflammatory role of mtDNA in the pathogenesis of AMD.
Purpose: To investigate the short- and long-term impact of COVID-19-related lockdown on the vision of patients requiring intravitreal injections (IVI) for neovascular Age-related Macular degeneration (nvAMD), diabetic retinopathy (DR), central retinal vein occlusion (CRVO), or branch retinal vein occlusion (BRVO). Methods: This is a retrospective study from the Retina department of three Mass Eye and Ear centers. Charts of patients age of ≥ 18 years with any of the abovementioned diagnoses who had a scheduled appointment anytime between 17 March 2020 until 18 May 2020 (lockdown period in Boston, Massachusetts) were reviewed at baseline (up to 12 weeks before the lockdown), at first available follow-up (=actual f/u) during or after the lockdown period, at 3 months, 6 months, and at last available completed appointment of 2020. Results: A total of 1001 patients met the inclusion criteria. Of those patients, 479 (47.9%) completed their intended f/u appointment, while 522 missed it (canceled and "no show"). The delay in care of those who missed it was 59.15 days [standard deviation (SD) ± 49.6]. In these patients, significant loss of vision was noted at actual f/u [Best corrected visual acuity (BCVA) in LogMAR (Logarithm of the Minimum Angle of Resolution)-mean (±SD)-completed: 0.45 (±0.46), missed: 0.53 (±0.55); p = 0.01], which was more prominent in the DR group [Visual acuity (VA) change in LogMAR-mean (±SD); completed: 0.04 (±0.28), missed: 0.18 (±0.44); p = 0.02] and CRVO [completed: -0.06 (±0.27), missed: 0.11 (±0.35); p = <0.001] groups followed by nvAMD [completed: 0.006 (±0.16), missed: 0.06 (±0.27); p = 0.004] and BRVO [completed: -0.02 (±0.1), missed: 0.03 (±0.14); p = 0.02] ones. Overall, a higher percent of people who missed their intended f/u experienced vision loss of more than 15 letters at last f/u compared to those who completed it [missed vs. completed; 13.4% vs. 7.4% in nvAMD (p = 0.72), 7.8% vs. 6.3% in DR (0.84), 15.5% vs. 9.9% in CRVO (p < 0.001) and 9.6% vs. 2% in BRVO (p = 0.48)]. Conclusions: Delay in care of about 8.45 weeks can lead to loss of vision in patients who receive IVI with DR and CRVO patients being more vulnerable in the short-term, whereas in the long-term, CRVO patients followed by the nvAMD patients demonstrating the least vision recovery. BRVO patients were less likely to be affected by the delay in care. Adherence to treatment is key for maintaining and improving visual outcomes in patients who require IVI.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of irreversible vision loss in people over the age of 50 worldwide. Exudative or neovascular AMD is a more severe subset of AMD which is characterized by the presence of choroidal neovascularization (CNV). Recent advancements in multimodal ophthalmic imaging, including optical coherence tomography (OCT) and OCT-angiography (OCT-A), have facilitated the detection and characterization of previously undetectable neovascular lesions and have enabled a more refined classification of CNV in exudative as well as nonexudative AMD patients. Subthreshold exudative CNV is a novel subtype of exudative AMD that typically presents asymptomatically with good visual acuity and is characterized by stable persistent or intermittent subretinal fluid (SRF). This review aims to provide an overview of the clinical as well as multimodal imaging characteristics of CNV in AMD, including this new clinical phenotype, and propose effective approaches for management.
Restoration of the retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells to prevent further loss of vision in patients with age-related macular degeneration represents a promising novel treatment modality. Development of RPE transplants, however, requires up to 3 months of cell differentiation. We explored whether the silk protein sericin can induce maturation of primary human retinal pigment epithelial (hRPE) cells. Microarray analysis demonstrated that sericin up-regulated RPE-associated transcripts (RPE65 and CRALBP). Upstream analysis identified the NF-κB pathway as one of the top sericin-induced regulators. ELISA confirmed that sericin stimulates the main NF-κB pathway. Increased levels of RPE-associated proteins (RPE65 and the pigment melanin) in the sericin-supplemented cultures were confirmed by western blot, spectrophotometry and transmission electron microscopy. Sericin also increased cell density and reduced cell death following serum starvation in culture. Inclusion of NF-κB agonists and antagonists in the culture medium showed that activation of the NF-κB pathway appears to be necessary, but not sufficient, for sericin-induced RPE pigmentation. We conclude that sericin promotes pigmentation of cultured primary hRPE cells by activating the main NF-κB pathway. Sericin's potential role in culture protocols for rapid differentiation of hRPE cells derived from embryonic or induced pluripotent stem cells should be investigated.