Age-related Macular Degeneration

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Nigalye AK, Hess K, Pundlik SJ, Jeffrey BG, Cukras CA, Husain D. Dark Adaptation and Its Role in Age-Related Macular Degeneration. J Clin Med 2022;11(5)Abstract
Dark adaptation (DA) refers to the slow recovery of visual sensitivity in darkness following exposure to intense or prolonged illumination, which bleaches a significant amount of the rhodopsin. This natural process also offers an opportunity to understand cellular function in the outer retina and evaluate for presence of disease. How our eyes adapt to darkness can be a key indicator of retinal health, which can be altered in the presence of certain diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). A specific focus on clinical aspects of DA measurement and its significance to furthering our understanding of AMD has revealed essential findings underlying the pathobiology of the disease. The process of dark adaptation involves phototransduction taking place mainly between the photoreceptor outer segments and the retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) layer. DA occurs over a large range of luminance and is modulated by both cone and rod photoreceptors. In the photopic ranges, rods are saturated and cone cells adapt to the high luminance levels. However, under scotopic ranges, cones are unable to respond to the dim luminance and rods modulate the responses to lower levels of light as they can respond to even a single photon. Since the cone visual cycle is also based on the Muller cells, measuring the impairment in rod-based dark adaptation is thought to be particularly relevant to diseases such as AMD, which involves both photoreceptors and RPE. Dark adaptation parameters are metrics derived from curve-fitting dark adaptation sensitivities over time and can represent specific cellular function. Parameters such as the cone-rod break (CRB) and rod intercept time (RIT) are particularly sensitive to changes in the outer retina. There is some structural and functional continuum between normal aging and the AMD pathology. Many studies have shown an increase of the rod intercept time (RIT), i.e., delays in rod-mediated DA in AMD patients with increasing disease severity determined by increased drusen grade, pigment changes and the presence of subretinal drusenoid deposits (SDD) and association with certain morphological features in the peripheral retina. Specifications of spatial testing location, repeatability of the testing, ease and availability of the testing device in clinical settings, and test duration in elderly population are also important. We provide a detailed overview in light of all these factors.
Nunes S, Alves D, Barreto P, Raimundo M, da Luz Cachulo M, Farinha C, Laíns I, Rodrigues J, Almeida C, Ribeiro L, Figueira J, Santos L, Silva R. Adherence to a mediterranean diet and its association with age-related macular degeneration. The Coimbra Eye Study-Report 4. Nutrition 2018;51-52:6-12.Abstract
OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to characterize the association of lifestyle and nutritional risk profiles with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in two subpopulations with differing AMD prevalence. METHODS: This case-control study (n = 1992) included 768 patients with AMD and 1224 age- and sex-matched participants without AMD with a single visit at a primary health care unit. Enrolled participants completed a validated lifestyle and food frequency questionnaire. A score to measure adherence to the Mediterranean diet (mediSCORE; Range, 0-9) was constructed from individual food intakes, which were further analyzed by conversion to nutrient consumption. RESULTS: Higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet (mediSCORE ≥6) was significantly associated with no AMD (odds ratio [OR] = 0.73; P = 0.009). The subpopulation with lower AMD prevalence presented significantly higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet in relation to all individual food groups that comprised the mediSCORE (P < 0.014) with the exception of cereals. Food group analysis showed significant associations between the increased consumption of vegetables (OR = 0.63; P < 0.001) and fruit and nuts (OR = 0.78; P = 0.010) with no AMD. Nutrient analysis revealed that an increased ingestion of water, fibers, total fat, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, linoleic acid, vitamins A and C, carotene, alpha-tocopherol, folate, magnesium, iron, and zinc were significantly associated with no AMD (P < 0.0013). Finally, regular physical activity was associated with no AMD (P = 0.003). CONCLUSIONS: High adherence to a Mediterranean diet and regular physical activity seem to be protective factors for AMD in a Portuguese population. The effect of the diet is likely driven by the increased consumption of vegetables, fruits, and nuts.
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Owen LA, Shakoor A, Morgan DJ, Hejazi AA, McEntire WM, Brown JJ, Farrer LA, Kim I, Vitale A, Deangelis MM. The Utah Protocol for Postmortem Eye Phenotyping and Molecular Biochemical Analysis. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2019;60(4):1204-1212.Abstract
Purpose: Current understanding of local disease pathophysiology in AMD is limited. Analysis of the human disease-affected tissue is most informative, as gene expression, expressed quantitative trait loci, microenvironmental, and epigenetic changes can be tissue, cell type, and location specific. Development of a novel translational treatment and prevention strategies particularly for earlier forms of AMD are needed, although access to human ocular tissue analysis is challenging. We present a standardized protocol to study rapidly processed postmortem donor eyes for molecular biochemical and genomic studies. Methods: We partnered with the Utah Lions Eye Bank to obtain donor human eyes, blood, and vitreous, within 6 hours postmortem. Phenotypic analysis was performed using spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) and color fundus photography. Macular and extramacular tissues were immediately isolated, and the neural retina and retinal pigment epithelium/choroid from each specimen were separated and preserved. Ocular disease phenotype was analyzed using clinically relevant grading criteria by a group of four ophthalmologists incorporating data from SD-OCT retinal images, fundus photographs, and medical records. Results: The use of multimodal imaging leads to greater resolution of retinal pathology, allowing greater phenotypic rigor for both interobserver phenotype and known clinical diagnoses. Further, our analysis resulted in excellent quality RNA, which demonstrated appropriate tissue segregation. Conclusions: The Utah protocol is a standardized methodology for analysis of disease mechanisms in AMD. It uniquely allows for simultaneous rigorous phenotypic, molecular biochemical, and genomic analysis of both systemic and local tissues. This better enables the development of disease biomarkers and therapeutic interventions.
Owen LA, Morrison MA, Ahn J, Woo SJ, Sato H, Robinson R, Morgan DJ, Zacharaki F, Simeonova M, Uehara H, Chakravarthy U, Hogg RE, Ambati BK, Kotoula M, Baehr W, Haider NB, Silvestri G, Miller JW, Tsironi EE, Farrer LA, Kim IK, Park KH, Deangelis MM. FLT1 genetic variation predisposes to neovascular AMD in ethnically diverse populations and alters systemic FLT1 expression. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2014;55(6):3543-54.Abstract
PURPOSE: Current understanding of the genetic risk factors for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is not sufficiently predictive of the clinical course. The VEGF pathway is a key therapeutic target for treatment of neovascular AMD; however, risk attributable to genetic variation within pathway genes is unclear. We sought to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with AMD within the VEGF pathway. METHODS: Using a tagSNP, direct sequencing and meta-analysis approach within four ethnically diverse cohorts, we identified genetic risk present in FLT1, though not within other VEGF pathway genes KDR, VEGFA, or VASH1. We used ChIP and ELISA in functional analysis. RESULTS: The FLT1 SNPs rs9943922, rs9508034, rs2281827, rs7324510, and rs9513115 were significantly associated with increased risk of neovascular AMD. Each association was more significant after meta-analysis than in any one of the four cohorts. All associations were novel, within noncoding regions of FLT1 that do not tag for coding variants in linkage disequilibrium. Analysis of soluble FLT1 demonstrated higher expression in unaffected individuals homozygous for the FLT1 risk alleles rs9943922 (P = 0.0086) and rs7324510 (P = 0.0057). In silico analysis suggests that these variants change predicted splice sites and RNA secondary structure, and have been identified in other neovascular pathologies. These data were supported further by murine chromatin immunoprecipitation demonstrating that FLT1 is a target of Nr2e3, a nuclear receptor gene implicated in regulating an AMD pathway. CONCLUSIONS: Although exact variant functions are not known, these data demonstrate relevancy across ethnically diverse genetic backgrounds within our study and, therefore, hold potential for global efficacy.
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Panigrahy D, Adini I, Mamluk R, Levonyak N, Bruns CJ, D'Amore PA, Klagsbrun M, Bielenberg DR. Regulation of soluble neuropilin 1, an endogenous angiogenesis inhibitor, in liver development and regeneration. Pathology 2014;46(5):416-23.Abstract

Neuropilin-1 (NRP1) is a receptor for vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). A soluble isoform of Nrp1 (sNrp1) has not been described in the mouse. Our goal was to examine the expression of mouse sNrp1 during liver development and regeneration.sNrp1 was cloned from mouse liver. The expression of sNrp1 and VEGF was examined in mouse liver during post-natal development and regeneration using northern blot, western blot, in situ hybridisation, and immunohistochemical analyses. HGF/NRP1 binding was examined in vitro.A novel 588-amino acid sNrp1 isoform was found to contain the ligand binding regions of Nrp1. The adult liver expressed more sNrp1 than full-length Nrp1. In vivo, hepatocytes constitutively expressed VEGF and sNrp1 in the quiescent state. sNrp1 was highly up-regulated at P20, a time point coinciding with a plateau in liver and body weights. Following hepatectomy, endogenous levels of sNrp1 decreased during the rapid growth phase, and VEGF levels were highest just prior to and during the angiogenic phase. sNrp1 levels again rose 5-10 days post-hepatectomy, presumably to control regeneration. HGF protein bound NRP1 and binding was competed with sNRP1.We cloned a novel mouse sNrp1 isoform from liver and provide evidence that this endogenous angiogenesis inhibitor may regulate VEGF or HGF bioavailability during normal physiological growth and development as well as during liver regeneration.

Papadopoulos Z. Neovascular age-related macular degeneration and its association with Alzheimer's disease. Curr Aging Sci 2020;Abstract
In developed countries, people of advanced age go permanently blind most often due to age-related macular degeneration, while at global level, this disease is the third major cause of blindness, after cataract and glaucoma, according to the World Health Organisation. The number of individuals believed to suffer from the disease throughout the world has been approximated at 50 million. Age-related macular degeneration is classified as non-neovascular (dry, non-exudative) and neovascular (wet, exudative). The exudative form is less common than the non-exudative as it accounts for approximately 10 percent of the cases of the disease. However, it can be much more aggressive and results in a rapid and severe loss of central vision. Similarly with age-related macular degeneration, Alzheimer's disease is a late-onset, neurodegenerative disease affecting millions of people worldwide. Both of them are associated with age and share several features, including the presence of extracellular abnormal deposits associated with neuronal degeneration, drusen, and plaques, respectively. The present review article highlights the pathogenesis, the clinical features and the imaging modalities used for the diagnosis of neovascular age-related macular degeneration. A thorough overview of the effectiveness of anti-VEGF agents as well as of other treatment modalities that have either lost favour or are rarely used is provided in detail. Additionally, the common histologic, immunologic, and pathogenetic features of Alzheimer's disease and age-related macular degeneration are discussed in depth.
Papadopoulos Z. Aflibercept: A review of its effect on the treatment of exudative age-related macular degeneration. Eur J Ophthalmol 2019;29(4):368-378.Abstract
Considerable improvement has been achieved in the way in which exudative age-related macular degeneration is conventionally treated and in the associated visual outcomes and prognosis, thanks to the agents with effects against vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF). By comparison to earlier treatment approaches that involved the use of lasers, the anti-VEGF agents have made it possible to accomplish more positive visual and anatomical outcomes in cases of exudative age-related macular degeneration. Indeed, owing to their positive effects, anti-VEGF agents have quickly come to be considered the gold standard for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration. Aflibercept, the most recently approved intravitreally administered anti-VEGF, seems to mark another milestone in the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration. This anti-VEGF agent presents a series of singular pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic attributes that provide it a number of biological benefits in relation to the treatment of choroidal neovascularization compared to other agents. These attributes include high level of affinity for the VEGF-A factor, an intravitreal half-life of great length, as well as the ability to serve as an antagonist for other growth factors besides VEGF. The impact of Aflibercept on the manner in which exudative age-related macular degeneration is managed was demonstrated by thoroughly reviewing the related literature. The present review article highlights the pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, safety and effectiveness of this anti-VEGF agent as well as the landmark clinical studies that have been carried out to establish this drug as a gold standard in the therapy of neovascular age-related macular degeneration. In addition, studies regarding the outcomes and effectiveness of the various dosage regimens, either as monotherapy or in combination with other agents, are also reviewed.
Papadopoulos Z. Recent Developments in the Treatment of Wet Age-related Macular Degeneration. Curr Med Sci 2020;40(5):851-857.Abstract
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of irreversible blindness and visual impairment in individuals over the age of 50 years in western societies. More than 25 million people currently suffer from this illness in the world, with an additional 500 000 every year, approximately. It is a multifactorial ocular disease that affects the maculae due to a late-onset progressive neurodegeneration and dysfunction of photoreceptors and retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). There are many subtypes of AMD but basically two broad forms: the nonneovascular (dry, nonexudative) and neovascular (wet, exudative). Exudative AMD is the less common form (about 15%) but tends to progress more rapidly. At the moment, wet AMD is treated primarily on the basis of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) agents, which have led to massive improvement in the prognosis of the disease since they were first introduced. This article focuses on the latest treatment approaches to neovascular AMD. An extensive literature review was performed in order to illustrate the effectiveness of current and future anti-VEGF agents as well as the landmark clinical studies that have been carried out to establish these drugs as a gold standard in the therapy of wet AMD.
Parikh R, Avery RL, Saroj N, Thompson D, Freund BK. Incidence of New Choroidal Neovascularization in Fellow Eyes of Patients With Age-Related Macular Degeneration Treated With Intravitreal Aflibercept or Ranibizumab. JAMA Ophthalmol 2019;Abstract
Importance: Incidence of conversion to neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD) in untreated fellow eyes of patients who are treated for nAMD in 1 eye with anti-vascular endothelial growth factor agents provides important prognostic information to clinically manage patients. Objective: To investigate the association of treatment assignment (intravitreal aflibercept vs ranibizumab) and baseline characteristics with fellow eye conversion to nAMD in the VEGF (Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor) Trap-Eye: Investigation of Efficacy and Safety in Wet AMD (VIEW) studies. Design, Setting, and Participants: This post hoc analysis of the VIEW 1 and VIEW 2 studies (randomized, double-masked, active-controlled, multicenter, 96-week, phase 3 trials comparing the efficacy and safety of intravitreal aflibercept in 2457 patients with treatment-naive eyes with nAMD) analyzed a subgroup of participants treated for nAMD in 1 eye who had untreated fellow eyes without neovascularization at baseline. All participants in the VIEW studies were included in 1 of 4 groups: ranibizumab, 0.5 mg, every 4 weeks; aflibercept, 2 mg, every 4 weeks; aflibercept, 0.5 mg, every 4 weeks; or aflibercept, 2 mg, every 8 weeks after 3 injections at 4-week intervals. Data collection in the VIEW studies occurred from July 2007 to August 2011; the data analysis presented in this report took place from April 2016 to November 2018. Interventions: Patients received no treatment in the fellow eyes unless after conversion to nAMD, when any treatment approved by heath authorities was given per the investigators' discretion. Main Outcomes and Measures: Incidence of conversion to nAMD in patients with untreated fellow eyes that had not had clinical signs of neovascularization at baseline. Results: A total of 1561 participants were included in this analysis. At 96 weeks, 375 patients (24.0%) experienced cases of conversion to neovascular disease in the fellow eye, including 107 of the 399 individuals who received ranibizumab, 0.5 mg, every 4 weeks; 93 of the 387 individuals who received aflibercept, 2 mg, every 4 weeks; 84 of the 387 individuals who received aflibercept, 0.5 mg, every 4 weeks; and 91 of the 388 individuals who received aflibercept, 2 mg, every 8 weeks after 3 doses at 4-week intervals. The rates were 18.1, 16.2, 14.7, and 16.0 per 100 patient-years at risk at week 96, respectively. On multivariate analysis, fellow eye conversion was associated with increasing patient age (per 10 years) at baseline (hazard ratio [HR], 1.20 [95% CI, 1.05-1.36]), female sex (HR, 1.32 [95% CI, 1.06-1.63]), intraretinal fluid in the study eye at baseline (HR, 1.28 [95% CI, 1.02-1.61]), and increasing choroidal neovascularization lesion size (per 10 mm2) in the study eye at baseline (HR, 1.29 [95% CI, 1.06-1.57]). Rates of fellow eye conversion were similar with either of the treatments. Conclusions and Relevance: In this secondary analysis of randomized clinical trial data, patients with active nAMD in 1 eye appeared to have a high risk for fellow eye conversion. Such patients should be monitored closely.
Perepelkina T, Fulton AB. Artificial Intelligence (AI) Applications for Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and Other Retinal Dystrophies. Semin Ophthalmol 2021;36(4):304-309.Abstract
Artificial intelligence (AI), with its subdivisions (machine and deep learning), is a new branch of computer science that has shown impressive results across a variety of domains. The applications of AI to medicine and biology are being widely investigated. Medical specialties that rely heavily on images, including radiology, dermatology, oncology and ophthalmology, were the first to explore AI approaches in analysis and diagnosis. Applications of AI in ophthalmology have concentrated on diseases with high prevalence, such as diabetic retinopathy, retinopathy of prematurity, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and glaucoma. Here we provide an overview of AI applications for diagnosis, classification, and clinical management of AMD and other macular dystrophies.
Pundlik S, Nigalye A, Laíns I, Mendez KM, Katz R, Kim J, Kim IK, Miller JB, Vavvas D, Miller JW, Luo G, Husain D. Area under the dark adaptation curve as a reliable alternate measure of dark adaptation response. Br J Ophthalmol 2022;106(10):1450-1456.Abstract
PURPOSE: Quantification of dark adaptation (DA) response using the conventional rod intercept time (RIT) requires very long testing time and may not be measurable in the presence of impairments due to diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The goal of this study was to investigate the advantages of using area under the DA curve (AUDAC) as an alternative to the conventional parameters to quantify DA response. METHODS: Data on 136 eyes (AMD: 98, normal controls: 38) from an ongoing longitudinal study on AMD were used. DA was measured using the AdaptDx 20 min protocol. AUDAC was computed from the raw DA characteristic curve at different time points, including 6.5 min and 20 min (default). The presence of AMD in the given eye was predicted using a logistic regression model within the leave-one-out cross-validation framework, with DA response as the predictor while adjusting for age and gender. The DA response variable was either the AUDAC values computed at 6.5 min (AUDAC6.5) or at 20 min (AUDAC20) cut-off, or the conventional RIT. RESULTS: AUDAC6.5 was strongly correlated with AUDAC20 (β=86, p<0.001, R2=0.87). The accuracy of predicting the presence of AMD using AUDAC20 was 76%, compared with 79% when using RIT, the current gold standard. In addition, when limiting AUDAC calculation to 6.5 min cut-off, the predictive accuracy of AUDAC6.5 was 80%. CONCLUSIONS: AUDAC can be a valuable measure to quantify the overall DA response and can potentially facilitate shorter testing duration while maintaining diagnostic accuracy.
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Raimundo M, Mira F, da Cachulo ML, Barreto P, Ribeiro L, Farinha C, Laíns I, Nunes S, Alves D, Figueira J, Merle BM, Delcourt C, Santos L, Silva R. Adherence to a Mediterranean diet, lifestyle and age-related macular degeneration: the Coimbra Eye Study - report 3. Acta Ophthalmol 2018;96(8):e926-e932.Abstract
PURPOSE: To characterize the lifestyle and nutritional risk profile associated with the Mediterranean diet in a Portuguese population with and without age-related macular degeneration (AMD). METHODS: Nested case-control study (n = 883) within the Coimbra Eye Study, including 434 subjects with AMD and 449 age- and sex-matched subjects without AMD. All enrolled subjects underwent a full risk assessment, including lifestyle-related risk factors and a thorough food frequency questionnaire. This allowed us to build an adherence score to the Mediterranean diet (mediSCORE, range 0-9) constructed from individual food intakes. Food intake was also further analysed by conversion to micronutrient consumption. RESULTS: Our results suggest that physical activity has a protective role in AMD [p = 0.018 after multivariate adjustment, OR: 0.69 (0.51-0.93)]. High (mediSCORE ≥6) was also found to be protective [p = 0.041, OR: 0.62 (95% CI: 0.38-0.97)]. Food group analysis unveiled a specific protective role for increased fruits consumption (p = 0.029). Finally, micronutrient analysis revealed a protective role associated with increased consumption of caffeine, fibres, beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E (p < 0.05). CONCLUSION: High mediSCORE appears to confer protection against the development of AMD in a Mediterranean population. This effect is driven by increased consumption of fruits and some antioxidant micronutrients, which emerged as statistically significant protective factors. Further studies are required to establish dietary recommendations with clinical application.
Ratnapriya R, Zhan X, Fariss RN, Branham KE, Zipprer D, Chakarova CF, Sergeev YV, Campos MM, Othman M, Friedman JS, Maminishkis A, Waseem NH, Brooks M, Rajasimha HK, Edwards AO, Lotery A, Klein BE, Truitt BJ, Li B, Schaumberg DA, Morgan DJ, Morrison MA, Souied E, Tsironi EE, Grassmann F, Fishman GA, Silvestri G, Scholl HPN, Kim IK, Ramke J, Tuo J, Merriam JE, Merriam JC, Park KH, Olson LM, Farrer LA, Johnson MP, Peachey NS, Lathrop M, Baron RV, Igo RP, Klein R, Hagstrom SA, Kamatani Y, Martin TM, Jiang Y, Conley Y, Sahel J-A, Zack DJ, Chan C-C, Pericak-Vance MA, Jacobson SG, Gorin MB, Klein ML, Allikmets R, Iyengar SK, Weber BH, Haines JL, Léveillard T, Deangelis MM, Stambolian D, Weeks DE, Bhattacharya SS, Chew EY, Heckenlively JR, Abecasis GR, Swaroop A. Rare and common variants in extracellular matrix gene Fibrillin 2 (FBN2) are associated with macular degeneration. Hum Mol Genet 2014;23(21):5827-37.Abstract

Neurodegenerative diseases affecting the macula constitute a major cause of incurable vision loss and exhibit considerable clinical and genetic heterogeneity, from early-onset monogenic disease to multifactorial late-onset age-related macular degeneration (AMD). As part of our continued efforts to define genetic causes of macular degeneration, we performed whole exome sequencing in four individuals of a two-generation family with autosomal dominant maculopathy and identified a rare variant p.Glu1144Lys in Fibrillin 2 (FBN2), a glycoprotein of the elastin-rich extracellular matrix (ECM). Sanger sequencing validated the segregation of this variant in the complete pedigree, including two additional affected and one unaffected individual. Sequencing of 192 maculopathy patients revealed additional rare variants, predicted to disrupt FBN2 function. We then undertook additional studies to explore the relationship of FBN2 to macular disease. We show that FBN2 localizes to Bruch's membrane and its expression appears to be reduced in aging and AMD eyes, prompting us to examine its relationship with AMD. We detect suggestive association of a common FBN2 non-synonymous variant, rs154001 (p.Val965Ile) with AMD in 10 337 cases and 11 174 controls (OR = 1.10; P-value = 3.79 × 10(-5)). Thus, it appears that rare and common variants in a single gene-FBN2-can contribute to Mendelian and complex forms of macular degeneration. Our studies provide genetic evidence for a key role of elastin microfibers and Bruch's membrane in maintaining blood-retina homeostasis and establish the importance of studying orphan diseases for understanding more common clinical phenotypes.

Rezende FA, Lapalme E, Qian CX, Smith LE, SanGiovanni JP, Sapieha P. Omega-3 supplementation combined with anti-vascular endothelial growth factor lowers vitreal levels of vascular endothelial growth factor in wet age-related macular degeneration. Am J Ophthalmol 2014;158(5):1071-1078.e1.Abstract
PURPOSE: To determine the influence of omega-3 supplementation on vitreous vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) levels in patients with exudative age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD) receiving intravitreal anti-VEGF treatment. DESIGN: Prospective, randomized, open-label, single-center, clinical trial, consecutive interventional case series. METHODS: The study included 3 cohorts with wet AMD and a control group with epiretinal membrane or macular hole. Twenty wet AMD patients being treated with anti-VEGF were randomized to daily supplementation of antioxidants, zinc, and carotenoids with omega-3 fatty acids (docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid; group 1, n = 10) or without omega-3 fatty acids (group 2, n = 10). They were compared with an anti-VEGF treatment-naïve wet AMD group (group 3, n = 10) and an epiretinal membrane or macular hole group (group 4, n = 10). Primary outcome was vitreal VEGF-A levels (at the time of anti-VEGF injection). Secondary outcomes were plasma VEGF-A and central foveal thickness. Patients with new submacular hemorrhage or any other treatment within 3 months were excluded. Final analyses included 9, 6, 7, and 8 patients in groups 1 through 4, respectively. RESULTS: Patients receiving omega-3s (group 1) had significantly lower levels of vitreal VEGF-A (141.11 ± 61.89 pg/mL) when compared with group 2 (626.09 ± 279.27 pg/mL; P = .036) and group 3 (735.48 ± 216.43 pg/mL; P = .013), but similar levels to group 4 (235.81 ± 33.99 pg/mL; P = .215). All groups showed similar values for plasma VEGF-A and central foveal thickness measurements. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrated that omega-3 supplementation combined with anti-VEGF treatment is associated with decreased vitreal VEGF-A levels in wet AMD patients.
Rodriguez JD, Wallstrom G, Narayanan D, Welch D, Abelson MB. An Alternative Psychophysical Diagnostic Indicator of the Aging Eye. J Ophthalmol 2019;2019:2036192.Abstract
Purpose: Impaired adaptation to changes in lighting levels as well as mesopic visual function is a common complaint in those over the age of 65. The use of photostress is a well-established method to test the adaption rate and the response of the visual cycle. In this study, we test visual function recovery to mesopic luminance stimuli following a long duration photostress in young and elderly subjects. If successful in strongly differentiating aging macular function, these methods may also be useful in the study of pathologies such as age-related macular degeneration. Methods: A group of 12 older normal subjects (mean age 75.1 ± 4.79) and a control group of 5 younger normal subjects (mean age 26.2 ± 4.19) were subjected to macular photostress using the OraLux photostress system. The OraLux system provides a diffuse light source bleaching 84% of cone photopigment while maintaining an exposure safety factor of 200 times less than the maximum safe exposure. After each photostressing session, macular recovery was tracked using a foveal, variable contrast, flickering stimulus of mean luminance in the high mesopic range. Recovery was tracked for 300 seconds. The endpoint was time to recovery to each individual's baseline sensitivity as determined by two static sensitivity trials prior to photostress. Results: Proportional hazards analysis of recovery time yielded a statistically significant difference between the older group and the young group (HR = 0.181; =0.0289). The estimated hazard ratio of 0.181 indicates that older subjects return to baseline at less than one-fifth the rate of younger subjects. The hazards ratio remained statistically significant after adjusting for visual acuity (HR = 0.093; =0.0424). Conclusion: Photostress recovery of flicker sensitivity under mesopic conditions is a strong differentiator of aging macular function. This agrees with subject-reported complaints in reduced luminance conditions after exposure to bright lights such as night driving. The qualitative similarity between the aging retina and changes in early AMD suggests that flicker recovery following photostress may be useful as a surrogate endpoint in AMD clinical trials.
Roh M, Laíns I, Shin HJ, Park DH, Mach S, Vavvas DG, Kim IK, Miller JW, Husain D, Miller JB. Microperimetry in age-related macular degeneration: association with macular morphology assessed by optical coherence tomography. Br J Ophthalmol 2019;103(12):1769-1776.Abstract
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Microperimetry is a technique that is increasingly used to assess visual function in age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In this study, we aimed to evaluate the relationship between retinal sensitivity measured with macular integrity assessment (MAIA) microperimetry and optical coherence tomography (OCT)-based macular morphology in AMD. METHODS: Prospective, cross-sectional study. All participants were imaged with colour fundus photographs used for AMD staging (Age-Related Eye Disease Study scale), spectral-domain OCT (Spectralis, Heidelberg, Germany) and swept-source OCT (Topcon, Japan). Threshold retinal sensitivity of the central 10° diameter circle was assessed with the full-threshold, 37-point protocol of the MAIA microperimetry device (Centervue, Italy). Univariable and multivariable multilevel mixed-effect linear regression models were used for analysis. RESULTS: We included 102 eyes with AMD and 46 control eyes. Multivariable analysis revealed that older age (p<0.0001), advanced AMD stage (p<0.0001) and reduced retinal thickness (p<0.0001) were associated with decreased mean retinal sensitivity. No associations were found between choroidal thickness and retinal sensitivity within the macula. Within the 10° diameter circle of the macula, the presence of ellipsoid disruption, subretinal fluid, atrophy and fibrosis, and outer retinal tubulation on OCT images was also associated with decreased retinal sensitivity (all p<0.05). CONCLUSIONS: There is an association between TRS as determined by MAIA microperimetry and several OCT structural parameters across various stages of AMD. This study highlights the relevance of microperimetry as a functional outcome measure for AMD.
Roh M, Miller JW, Jeng-Miller KW, Wang JC, Laíns I, Silverman RF, Loewenstein JI, Husain D, Vavvas DG, Miller JB. Subthreshold Exudative Choroidal Neovascularization Associated With Age-Related Macular Degeneration Identified by Optical Coherence Tomography Angiography. J Vitreoretin Dis 2020;4(5):377-385.Abstract
Purpose: This article describes the clinical and multimodal imaging characteristics of subthreshold exudative choroidal neovascularization (CNV) associated with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Methods: Among 3773 patients with AMD, 8 eyes (6 patients) were identified with the clinical phenotype of interest. Dilated fundus examinations, color fundus photography, fluorescein angiography (FA), indocyanine green angiography (ICGA), optical coherence tomography (OCT), and OCT angiography (OCTA) were performed. Results: OCT typically showed a moderately reflective irregular pigment epithelial detachment with overlying subretinal fluid (SRF). Traditional FA did not show leakage and ICGA showed no definitive neovascular network or hot spots. However, OCTA clearly demonstrated a CNV within the pigment epithelial detachment. The majority of our cases (7 of 8) did not receive antivascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) injections, and visual acuity remained stable over the available follow-up period of I to 10 years. Conclusions: CNV is often associated with SRF and vision loss in AMD, usually requiring frequent anti-VEGF injections. OCTA allowed us to better identify CNV not readily detected on FA and ICGA. Although some have suggested early clinical intervention with anti-VEGF injections in any case with fluid and confirmed CNV on OCTA, we describe a subset of AMD patients with SRF who may be better managed by observation. These cases may represent a more indolent, mature, and stable vascular network.
Roh M, Selivanova A, Shin HJ, Miller JW, Jackson ML. Visual acuity and contrast sensitivity are two important factors affecting vision-related quality of life in advanced age-related macular degeneration. PLoS One 2018;13(5):e0196481.Abstract
PURPOSE: Vision loss from age-related macular degeneration (AMD) has a profound effect on vision-related quality of life (VRQoL). The pupose of this study is to identify clinical factors associated with VRQoL using the Rasch- calibrated NEI VFQ-25 scales in bilateral advanced AMD patients. METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed 47 patients (mean age 83.2 years) with bilateral advanced AMD. Clinical assessment included age, gender, type of AMD, high contrast visual acuity (VA), history of medical conditions, contrast sensitivity (CS), central visual field loss, report of Charles Bonnet Syndrome, current treatment for AMD and Rasch-calibrated NEI VFQ-25 visual function and socioemotional function scales. The NEI VFQ visual function scale includes items of general vision, peripheral vision, distance vision and near vision-related activity while the socioemotional function scale includes items of vision related-social functioning, role difficulties, dependency, and mental health. Multiple regression analysis (structural regression model) was performed using fixed item parameters obtained from the one-parameter item response theory model. RESULTS: Multivariate analysis showed that high contrast VA and CS were two factors influencing VRQoL visual function scale (β = -0.25, 95% CI-0.37 to -0.12, p<0.001 and β = 0.35, 95% CI 0.25 to 0.46, p<0.001) and socioemontional functioning scale (β = -0.2, 95% CI -0.37 to -0.03, p = 0.023, and β = 0.3, 95% CI 0.18 to 0.43, p = 0.001). Central visual field loss was not assoicated with either VRQoL visual or socioemontional functioning scale (β = -0.08, 95% CI-0.28 to 0.12,p = 0.44 and β = -0.09, 95% CI -0.03 to 0.16, p = 0.50, respectively). CONCLUSION: In patients with vision impairment secondary to bilateral advanced AMD, high contrast VA and CS are two important factors affecting VRQoL.
Rong SS, Lee BY, Kuk AK, Yu XT, Li SS, Li J, Guo Y, Yin Y, Osterbur DL, Yam JCS, Cheung CY, Chen LJ, Wong TY, Ng DS-C. Comorbidity of dementia and age-related macular degeneration calls for clinical awareness: a meta-analysis. Br J Ophthalmol 2019;103(12):1777-1783.Abstract
AIM: To determine the association between dementia and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) using meta-analysis. METHODS: We searched in the MEDLINE, EMBASE, Web of Knowledge, PsycInfo and Cochrane database of systematic reviews for studies published from March 1959 to March 2018. We included cross-sectional, case-control and cohort studies that evaluated the association of dementia/Alzheimer's disease (AD) with AMD (as outcome) and the association of AMD with dementia/AD (as outcome). Studies that compared cognitive functions between AMD and controls were also included. The summary outcomes, namely odds ratio (OR), relative risk, mean differences and corresponding 95% CIs, were estimated using random effects models. We performed sensitivity analysis based on study quality and individual study effect to control for potential biases. RESULTS: Among 2159 citation records, we identified 21 studies consisting of 7 876 499 study subjects for meta-analysis. Patients with dementia (p≤0.017, OR≥1.24, I≤9%) or AD (p=0.001, OR=2.22, I=50%) were at risk for AMD, particularly for late AMD (p<0.001, OR=1.37, I=0). AMD was also significantly associated with increased risk of AD/cognitive impairment (p=0.037, OR=2.42, I=38%). Moreover, patients with AMD had poorer cognitive functions when compared with controls, including Mini-Mental State Examination (p<0.001, I≤79%) and Trail Making Test A (p<0.001, I=0). Sensitivity analysis and Egger's test indicated our results were less likely biased. CONCLUSIONS: A significant association between dementia/AD and AMD calls for greater clinical awareness. The cost-effectiveness of routine screening for the other condition in patients with primary diagnosis of dementia/AD or AMD requires further study.
Rossato FA, Su Y, Mackey A, Ng YSE. Fibrotic Changes and Endothelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition Promoted by VEGFR2 Antagonism Alter the Therapeutic Effects of VEGFA Pathway Blockage in a Mouse Model of Choroidal Neovascularization. Cells 2020;9(9)Abstract
Many patients with wet age-related macular degeneration do not respond well to anti- vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA) therapy for choroidal neovascularization (CNV), and the efficacy of anti-VEGFA decreases over time. We investigated the hypothesis that fibrotic changes, in particular via endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EndoMT), play a role in CNV and alter the therapeutic effects of VEGFA pathway blockage. Induction of EndoMT of primary human retinal endothelial cells led to a significantly reduced response to VEGFA at the level of gene expression, cellular proliferation, migration, and tube formation. Suppression of EndoMT restored cell responsiveness to VEGFA. In a mouse model of spontaneous CNV, fibrotic changes and EndoMT persisted as the CNV lesions became more established over time. VEGFA receptor-2 (VEGFR2) antagonism further induced fibrosis and EndoMT in the CNV. The combination of VEGFR2 antagonism and fibrosis/EndoMT inhibition was more effective than either individual treatment in reducing CNV. Our data indicate that fibrosis and EndoMT are involved in the progression of CNV, are exacerbated by VEGFR2 inhibition, and could provide an explanation for the reduced efficacy of anti-VEGFA treatment over time.

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