Age-related Macular Degeneration

Schwartz SD, Regillo CD, Lam BL, Eliott D, Rosenfeld PJ, Gregori NZ, Hubschman J-P, Davis JL, Heilwell G, Spirn M, Maguire J, Gay R, Bateman J, Ostrick RM, Morris D, Vincent M, Anglade E, Del Priore LV, Lanza R. Human embryonic stem cell-derived retinal pigment epithelium in patients with age-related macular degeneration and Stargardt's macular dystrophy: follow-up of two open-label phase 1/2 studies. Lancet 2015;385(9967):509-16.Abstract

BACKGROUND: Since they were first derived more than three decades ago, embryonic stem cells have been proposed as a source of replacement cells in regenerative medicine, but their plasticity and unlimited capacity for self-renewal raises concerns about their safety, including tumour formation ability, potential immune rejection, and the risk of differentiating into unwanted cell types. We report the medium-term to long-term safety of cells derived from human embryonic stem cells (hESC) transplanted into patients. METHODS: In the USA, two prospective phase 1/2 studies were done to assess the primary endpoints safety and tolerability of subretinal transplantation of hESC-derived retinal pigment epithelium in nine patients with Stargardt's macular dystrophy (age >18 years) and nine with atrophic age-related macular degeneration (age >55 years). Three dose cohorts (50,000, 100,000, and 150,000 cells) were treated for each eye disorder. Transplanted patients were followed up for a median of 22 months by use of serial systemic, ophthalmic, and imaging examinations. The studies are registered with, numbers NCT01345006 (Stargardt's macular dystrophy) and NCT01344993 (age-related macular degeneration). FINDINGS: There was no evidence of adverse proliferation, rejection, or serious ocular or systemic safety issues related to the transplanted tissue. Adverse events were associated with vitreoretinal surgery and immunosuppression. 13 (72%) of 18 patients had patches of increasing subretinal pigmentation consistent with transplanted retinal pigment epithelium. Best-corrected visual acuity, monitored as part of the safety protocol, improved in ten eyes, improved or remained the same in seven eyes, and decreased by more than ten letters in one eye, whereas the untreated fellow eyes did not show similar improvements in visual acuity. Vision-related quality-of-life measures increased for general and peripheral vision, and near and distance activities, improving by 16-25 points 3-12 months after transplantation in patients with atrophic age-related macular degeneration and 8-20 points in patients with Stargardt's macular dystrophy. INTERPRETATION: The results of this study provide the first evidence of the medium-term to long-term safety, graft survival, and possible biological activity of pluripotent stem cell progeny in individuals with any disease. Our results suggest that hESC-derived cells could provide a potentially safe new source of cells for the treatment of various unmet medical disorders requiring tissue repair or replacement. FUNDING: Advanced Cell Technology.

Scotti F, Maestroni A, Palini A, Introini U, Setaccioli M, Lorenzi M, Zerbini G. Endothelial progenitor cells and response to ranibizumab in age-related macular degeneration. Retina 2014;34(9):1802-10.Abstract

BACKGROUND: Choroidal neovascularization (CNV) is the main cause of vision loss in age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In experimental CNV, endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) contribute to the formation of new vessels. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the behavior of EPCs in patients with AMD supports a role for EPCs in human CNV. METHODS: The number of circulating EPCs that are considered pure endothelial precursors and EPCs with monocytic characteristics, and the plasma levels of regulatory cytokines were evaluated in 23 patients with AMD with active CNV and 20 matched controls. In the patients, this profile was re-evaluated after ranibizumab. RESULTS: When compared with controls, the patients with AMD showed a lower number of both EPC types (P = 0.03) and higher plasma levels (P = 0.03) of stromal cell-derived factor 1. Three monthly injections of ranibizumab returned to control levels the number of circulating EPCs considered pure endothelial precursors and of stromal cell-derived factor 1, but not of monocytic EPCs. CONCLUSION: The observations indicate responsiveness of circulating EPCs to the CNV process in AMD. They suggest the hypothesis that increased stromal cell-derived factor 1 production at the CNV site (reflected in higher plasma levels) recruits EPCs from the circulation, and that antivascular endothelial growth factor therapy selectively decreases the recruitment of cells to be incorporated into new vessels.

Shu DY, Butcher E, Saint-Geniez M. EMT and EndMT: Emerging Roles in Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Int J Mol Sci 2020;21(12)Abstract
Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and endothelial-mesenchymal transition (EndMT) are physiological processes required for normal embryogenesis. However, these processes can be hijacked in pathological conditions to facilitate tissue fibrosis and cancer metastasis. In the eye, EMT and EndMT play key roles in the pathogenesis of subretinal fibrosis, the end-stage of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) that leads to profound and permanent vision loss. Predominant in subretinal fibrotic lesions are matrix-producing mesenchymal cells believed to originate from the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and/or choroidal endothelial cells (CECs) through EMT and EndMT, respectively. Recent evidence suggests that EMT of RPE may also be implicated during the early stages of AMD. Transforming growth factor-beta (TGFβ) is a key cytokine orchestrating both EMT and EndMT. Investigations in the molecular mechanisms underpinning EMT and EndMT in AMD have implicated a myriad of contributing factors including signaling pathways, extracellular matrix remodelling, oxidative stress, inflammation, autophagy, metabolism and mitochondrial dysfunction. Questions arise as to differences in the mesenchymal cells derived from these two processes and their distinct mechanistic contributions to the pathogenesis of AMD. Detailed discussion on the AMD microenvironment highlights the synergistic interactions between RPE and CECs that may augment the EMT and EndMT processes in vivo. Understanding the differential regulatory networks of EMT and EndMT and their contributions to both the dry and wet forms of AMD can aid the development of therapeutic strategies targeting both RPE and CECs to potentially reverse the aberrant cellular transdifferentiation processes, regenerate the retina and thus restore vision.
Sobrin L, Ripke S, Yu Y, Fagerness J, Bhangale TR, Tan PL, Souied EH, Buitendijk GHS, Merriam JE, Richardson AJ, Raychaudhuri S, Reynolds R, Chin KA, Lee AY, Leveziel N, Zack DJ, Campochiaro P, Smith TR, Barile GR, Hogg RE, Chakravarthy U, Behrens TW, Uitterlinden AG, van Duijn CM, Vingerling JR, Brantley MA, Baird PN, Klaver CCW, Allikmets R, Katsanis N, Graham RR, Ioannidis JPA, Daly MJ, Seddon JM. Heritability and genome-wide association study to assess genetic differences between advanced age-related macular degeneration subtypes. Ophthalmology 2012;119(9):1874-85.Abstract
PURPOSE: To investigate whether the 2 subtypes of advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD), choroidal neovascularization (CNV), and geographic atrophy (GA) segregate separately in families and to identify which genetic variants are associated with these 2 subtypes. DESIGN: Sibling correlation study and genome-wide association study (GWAS). PARTICIPANTS: For the sibling correlation study, 209 sibling pairs with advanced AMD were included. For the GWAS, 2594 participants with advanced AMD subtypes and 4134 controls were included. Replication cohorts included 5383 advanced AMD participants and 15 240 controls. METHODS: Participants had the AMD grade assigned based on fundus photography, examination, or both. To determine heritability of advanced AMD subtypes, a sibling correlation study was performed. For the GWAS, genome-wide genotyping was conducted and 6 036 699 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were imputed. Then, the SNPs were analyzed with a generalized linear model controlling for genotyping platform and genetic ancestry. The most significant associations were evaluated in independent cohorts. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Concordance of advanced AMD subtypes in sibling pairs and associations between SNPs with GA and CNV advanced AMD subtypes. RESULTS: The difference between the observed and expected proportion of siblings concordant for the same subtype of advanced AMD was different to a statistically significant degree (P = 4.2 × 10(-5)), meaning that in siblings of probands with CNV or GA, the same advanced subtype is more likely to develop. In the analysis comparing participants with CNV to those with GA, a statistically significant association was observed at the ARMS2/HTRA1 locus (rs10490924; odds ratio [OR], 1.47; P = 4.3 × 10(-9)), which was confirmed in the replication samples (OR, 1.38; P = 7.4 × 10(-14) for combined discovery and replication analysis). CONCLUSIONS: Whether CNV versus GA develops in a patient with AMD is determined in part by genetic variation. In this large GWAS meta-analysis and replication analysis, the ARMS2/HTRA1 locus confers increased risk for both advanced AMD subtypes, but imparts greater risk for CNV than for GA. This locus explains a small proportion of the excess sibling correlation for advanced AMD subtype. Other loci were detected with suggestive associations that differ for advanced AMD subtypes and deserve follow-up in additional studies.
Sobrin L, Seddon JM. Nature and nurture- genes and environment- predict onset and progression of macular degeneration. Prog Retin Eye Res 2014;40:1-15.Abstract
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.
Sobrin L, Yang JY. Not All Genes Are Created Equal in Age-Related Macular Degeneration. JAMA Ophthalmol 2022;140(3):260-261.
Srinivasan PP, Kim LA, Mettu PS, Cousins SW, Comer GM, Izatt JA, Farsiu S. Fully automated detection of diabetic macular edema and dry age-related macular degeneration from optical coherence tomography images. Biomed Opt Express 2014;5(10):3568-77.Abstract

We present a novel fully automated algorithm for the detection of retinal diseases via optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging. Our algorithm utilizes multiscale histograms of oriented gradient descriptors as feature vectors of a support vector machine based classifier. The spectral domain OCT data sets used for cross-validation consisted of volumetric scans acquired from 45 subjects: 15 normal subjects, 15 patients with dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and 15 patients with diabetic macular edema (DME). Our classifier correctly identified 100% of cases with AMD, 100% cases with DME, and 86.67% cases of normal subjects. This algorithm is a potentially impactful tool for the remote diagnosis of ophthalmic diseases.

Tsikata E, Laíns I, Gil J, Marques M, Brown K, Mesquita T, Melo P, da Luz Cachulo M, Kim IK, Vavvas D, Murta JN, Miller JB, Silva R, Miller JW, Chen TC, Husain D. Automated Brightness and Contrast Adjustment of Color Fundus Photographs for the Grading of Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Transl Vis Sci Technol 2017;6(2):3.Abstract

PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to develop an algorithm to automatically standardize the brightness, contrast, and color balance of digital color fundus photographs used to grade AMD and to validate this algorithm by determining the effects of the standardization on image quality and disease grading. METHODS: Seven-field color photographs of patients (>50 years) with any stage of AMD and a control group were acquired at two study sites, with either the Topcon TRC-50DX or Zeiss FF-450 Plus cameras. Field 2 photographs were analyzed. Pixel brightness values in the red, green, and blue (RGB) color channels were adjusted in custom-built software to make the mean brightness and contrast of the images equal to optimal values determined by the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) 2 group. RESULTS: Color photographs of 370 eyes were analyzed. We found a wide range of brightness and contrast values in the images at baseline, even for those taken with the same camera. After processing, image brightness variability (brightest image-dimmest image in a color channel) was reduced 69-fold, 62-fold, and 96-fold for the RGB channels. Contrast variability was reduced 6-fold, 8-fold, and 13-fold, respectively, after adjustment. Of the 23% images considered nongradable before adjustment, only 5.7% remained nongradable. CONCLUSIONS: This automated software enables rapid and accurate standardization of color photographs for AMD grading. TRANSLATIONAL RELEVANCE: This work offers the potential to be the future of assessing and grading AMD from photos for clinical research and teleimaging.

Vavvas DG, Small KW, Awh C, Zanke BW, Tibshirani RJ, Kustra R. Reply to Vickers: Pharmacogenetics and progression to neovascular age-related macular degeneration-Evidence supporting practice change. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2018;115(25):E5640-E5641.
Vavvas DG, Daniels AB, Kapsala ZG, Goldfarb JW, Ganotakis E, Loewenstein JI, Young LH, Gragoudas ES, Eliott D, Kim IK, Tsilimbaris MK, Miller JW. Regression of Some High-risk Features of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) in Patients Receiving Intensive Statin Treatment. EBioMedicine 2016;5:198-203.Abstract

IMPORTANCE: Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) remains the leading cause of blindness in developed countries, and affects more than 150 million worldwide. Despite effective anti-angiogenic therapies for the less prevalent neovascular form of AMD, treatments are lacking for the more prevalent dry form. Similarities in risk factors and pathogenesis between AMD and atherosclerosis have led investigators to study the effects of statins on AMD incidence and progression with mixed results. A limitation of these studies has been the heterogeneity of AMD disease and the lack of standardization in statin dosage. OBJECTIVE: We were interested in studying the effects of high-dose statins, similar to those showing regression of atherosclerotic plaques, in AMD. DESIGN: Pilot multicenter open-label prospective clinical study of 26 patients with diagnosis of AMD and the presence of many large, soft drusenoid deposits. Patients received 80 mg of atorvastatin daily and were monitored at baseline and every 3 months with complete ophthalmologic exam, best corrected visual acuity (VA), fundus photographs, optical coherence tomography (OCT), and blood work (AST, ALT, CPK, total cholesterol, TSH, creatinine, as well as a pregnancy test for premenopausal women). RESULTS: Twenty-three subjects completed a minimum follow-up of 12 months. High-dose atorvastatin resulted in regression of drusen deposits associated with vision gain (+ 3.3 letters, p = 0.06) in 10 patients. No subjects progressed to advanced neovascular AMD. CONCLUSIONS: High-dose statins may result in resolution of drusenoid pigment epithelial detachments (PEDs) and improvement in VA, without atrophy or neovascularization in a high-risk subgroup of AMD patients. Confirmation from larger studies is warranted.

Vavvas DG, Small KW, Awh CC, Zanke BW, Tibshirani RJ, Kustra R. CFH and ARMS2 genetic risk determines progression to neovascular age-related macular degeneration after antioxidant and zinc supplementation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2018;Abstract
We evaluated the influence of an antioxidant and zinc nutritional supplement [the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) formulation] on delaying or preventing progression to neovascular AMD (NV) in persons with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AREDS subjects (n = 802) with category 3 or 4 AMD at baseline who had been treated with placebo or the AREDS formulation were evaluated for differences in the risk of progression to NV as a function of complement factor H (CFH) and age-related maculopathy susceptibility 2 (ARMS2) genotype groups. We used published genetic grouping: a two-SNP haplotype risk-calling algorithm to assess CFH, and either the single SNP rs10490924 or 372_815del443ins54 to mark ARMS2 risk. Progression risk was determined using the Cox proportional hazard model. Genetics-treatment interaction on NV risk was assessed using a multiiterative bootstrap validation analysis. We identified strong interaction of genetics with AREDS formulation treatment on the development of NV. Individuals with high CFH and no ARMS2 risk alleles and taking the AREDS formulation had increased progression to NV compared with placebo. Those with low CFH risk and high ARMS2 risk had decreased progression risk. Analysis of CFH and ARMS2 genotype groups from a validation dataset reinforces this conclusion. Bootstrapping analysis confirms the presence of a genetics-treatment interaction and suggests that individual treatment response to the AREDS formulation is largely determined by genetics. The AREDS formulation modifies the risk of progression to NV based on individual genetics. Its use should be based on patient-specific genotype.
Wagley S, Marra KV, Salhi RA, Gautam S, Campo R, Veale P, Veale J, Arroyo JG. PERIODONTAL DISEASE AND AGE-RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION: Results From the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III. Retina 2015;35(5):982-8.Abstract

PURPOSE: To study the association between periodontal disease (PD) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). METHODS: For this cross-sectional analysis, 8,208 adults aged 40 years or older with retinal photographs graded for AMD were used from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III standardized dental measurements of PD status (defined as loss of >3 mm of attachment between the gum and tooth in at least 10% of sites measured). Participants were stratified into 60 years or younger and older than 60 years of age groups. Association between PD and AMD was assessed while controlling for sex, race, education, poverty income ratio, smoking, hypertension, body mass index, cardiovascular disease, and C-reactive protein. RESULTS: In this population, a total of 52.30% had PD, and the prevalence of AMD was 11.45%. Logistic regression model controlled for confounders and stratified by age 60 years or younger versus older than 60 years showed PD to be independently associated with an increased risk for AMD (odds ratio = 1.96, 95% confidence interval = 1.22-3.14, P = 0.006) for those aged 60 years or younger but not for subjects older than 60 years (odds ratio = 1.32, confidence interval = 0.93-1.90, P = 0.120). CONCLUSION: In this population-based study, PD is independently associated with AMD in those aged 60 years or younger.

Wai KM, Vingopoulos F, Garg I, Kasetty M, Silverman RF, Katz R, Laíns I, Miller JW, Husain D, Vavvas DG, Kim LA, Miller JB. Contrast sensitivity function in patients with macular disease and good visual acuity. Br J Ophthalmol 2022;106(6):839-844.Abstract
INTRODUCTION: Contrast sensitivity function (CSF) may better estimate a patient's visual function compared with visual acuity (VA). Our study evaluates the quick CSF (qCSF) method to measure visual function in eyes with macular disease and good letter acuity. METHODS: Patients with maculopathies (retinal vein occlusion, macula-off retinal detachment, dry age-related macular degeneration and wet age-related macular degeneration) and good letter acuity (VA ≥20/30) were included. The qCSF method uses an intelligent algorithm to measure CSF across multiple spatial frequencies. All maculopathy eyes combined and individual macular disease groups were compared with healthy control eyes. Main outcomes included area under the log CSF (AULCSF) and six CS thresholds ranging from 1 cycle per degree (cpd) to 18 cpd. RESULTS: 151 eyes with maculopathy and 93 control eyes with VA ≥20/30 were included. The presence of a maculopathy was associated with significant reduction in AULCSF (β: -0.174; p<0.001) and CS thresholds at all spatial frequencies except for 18 cpd (β: -0.094 to -0.200 log CS, all p<0.01) compared with controls. Reductions in CS thresholds were most notable at low and intermediate spatial frequencies (1.5 cpd, 3 cpd and 6 cpd). CONCLUSION: CSF measured with the qCSF active learning method was found to be significantly reduced in eyes affected by macular disease despite good VA compared with healthy control eyes. The qCSF method is a promising clinical tool to quantify subtle visual deficits that may otherwise go unrecognised by current testing methods.
Wang JC, McKay KM, Sood AB, Laíns I, Sobrin L, Miller JB. Comparison of choroidal neovascularization secondary to white dot syndromes and age-related macular degeneration by using optical coherence tomography angiography. Clin Ophthalmol 2019;13:95-105.Abstract
Purpose: To characterize and compare choroidal neovascularization (CNV) secondary to white dot syndromes (WDS) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) using optical coherence tomography angiography (OCT-A). Methods: This is a cross-sectional study in which we imaged patients with CNV secondary to WDS and AMD with either the Zeiss Angioplex OCT-A or Optovue AngioVue OCT-A. Relevant demographic and clinical characteristics were collected and analyzed. CNV area and vessel density (VD) were measured by three independent graders, and linear regression analysis was subsequently performed. Results: Three patients with multifocal choroiditis and panuveitis, one patient each with birdshot chorioretinopathy, presumed ocular histoplasmosis syndrome, and persistent placoid maculopathy, and eleven patients with AMD with sufficient image quality were included. CNV associated with WDS was significantly smaller than that secondary to AMD (0.56±0.32 vs 2.79±1.80 mm, =-2.22, =0.01), while no difference in VD was detected (0.46±0.09 vs 0.44±0.09, =0.02, =0.71). Conclusion: CNV networks secondary to WDS appear to be smaller than those secondary to AMD but have similar VD. OCT-A is a powerful tool to investigate properties of CNV from various etiologies. Larger studies are needed for further characterization and understanding of CNV pathogenesis in inflammatory conditions.
Wang Y, Liu C-H, Ji T, Mehta M, Wang W, Marino E, Chen J, Kohane DS. Intravenous treatment of choroidal neovascularization by photo-targeted nanoparticles. Nat Commun 2019;10(1):804.Abstract
Choroidal neovascularization (CNV) is the major cause of vision loss in wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Current therapies require repeated intravitreal injections, which are painful and can cause infection, bleeding, and retinal detachment. Here we develop nanoparticles (NP-[CPP]) that can be administered intravenously and allow local drug delivery to the diseased choroid via light-triggered targeting. NP-[CPP] is formed by PEG-PLA chains modified with a cell penetrating peptide (CPP). Attachment of a DEACM photocleavable group to the CPP inhibits cellular uptake of NP-[CPP]. Irradiation with blue light cleaves DEACM from the CPP, allowing the CPP to migrate from the NP core to the surface, rendering it active. In mice with laser-induced CNV, intravenous injection of NP-[CPP] coupled to irradiation of the eye allows NP accumulation in the neovascular lesions. When loaded with doxorubicin, irradiated NP-[CPP] significantly reduces neovascular lesion size. We propose a strategy for non-invasive treatment of CNV and enhanced drug accumulation specifically in diseased areas of the eye.
Wang T, Zhou P, Xie X, Tomita Y, Cho S, Tsirukis D, Lam E, Luo HR, Sun Y. Myeloid lineage contributes to pathological choroidal neovascularization formation via SOCS3. EBioMedicine 2021;73:103632.Abstract
BACKGROUND: Pathological neovascularization in neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in the elderly. Increasing evidence shows that cells of myeloid lineage play important roles in controlling pathological endothelium formation. Suppressor of cytokine signaling 3 (SOCS3) pathway has been linked to neovascularization. METHODS: We utilised a laser-induced choroidal neovascularization (CNV) mouse model to investigate the neovascular aspect of human AMD. In several cell lineage reporter mice, bone marrow chimeric mice and Socs3 loss-of-function (knockout) and gain-of-function (overexpression) mice, immunohistochemistry, confocal, and choroidal explant co-culture with bone marrow-derived macrophage medium were used to study the mechanisms underlying pathological CNV formation via myeloid SOCS3. FINDINGS: SOCS3 was significantly induced in myeloid lineage cells, which were recruited into the CNV lesion area. Myeloid Socs3 overexpression inhibited laser-induced CNV, reduced myeloid lineage-derived macrophage/microglia recruitment onsite, and attenuated pro-inflammatory factor expression. Moreover, SOCS3 in myeloid regulated vascular sprouting ex vivo in choroid explants and SOCS3 agonist reduced in vivo CNV. INTERPRETATION: These findings suggest that myeloid lineage cells contributed to pathological CNV formation regulated by SOCS3. FUNDING: This project was funded by NIH/NEI (R01EY030140, R01EY029238), BrightFocus Foundation, American Health Assistance Foundation (AHAF), and Boston Children's Hospital Ophthalmology Foundation for YS and the National Institutes of Health/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (U01HL098166) for PZ.
Wiecek E, Lashkari K, Dakin S, Bex PJ. Novel Quantitative Assessment of Metamorphopsia in Maculopathy. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2014;Abstract

Purpose: Patients with macular disease often report experiencing metamorphopsia (visual distortion). Although typically measured with Amsler charts, more objective and quantitative assessments of perceived distortion are desirable to effectively monitor the presence, progression and remediation of visual impairment. Methods: Participants with binocular (n = 33) and monocular (n= 50) maculopathy across seven disease groups, and control participants (n = 10) with no identifiable retinal disease completed a modified Amsler Grid assessment (presented on a computer screen with eye tracking to ensure fixation compliance) and two novel objective measures of metamorphopsia in the central five degrees of visual field. 81% (67/83) of participants completed a task requiring them to configure eight dots in the shape of a square, and 64% (32/50) of participants experiencing monocular distortion completed a spatial alignment task using dichoptic stimuli. 10 controls completed all tasks. Results: Horizontal and vertical distortion magnitudes were calculated for each of the three assessments. Distortion magnitudes were significantly higher in patients than controls in all assessments. There was no significant difference in magnitude of distortion across different macular diseases. Among patients, there were no significant correlations between overall magnitude of distortion among any of the three measures and no significant correlations in localized measures of distortion. Conclusions: Three alternative quantifications of monocular spatial distortion in the central visual field generated uncorrelated estimates of visual distortion. It is therefore unlikely that metamorphopsia is caused solely by displacement of photoreceptors in the retina, but instead involves additional top-down information, knowledge about the scene, and perhaps, cortical reorganization.

Winkler TW, Grassmann F, Brandl C, Kiel C, Günther F, Strunz T, Weidner L, Zimmermann ME, Korb CA, Poplawski A, Schuster AK, Müller-Nurasyid M, Peters A, Rauscher FG, Elze T, Horn K, Scholz M, Cañadas-Garre M, McKnight AJ, Quinn N, Hogg RE, Küchenhoff H, Heid IM, Stark KJ, Weber BHF. Genome-wide association meta-analysis for early age-related macular degeneration highlights novel loci and insights for advanced disease. BMC Med Genomics 2020;13(1):120.Abstract
BACKGROUND: Advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of blindness. While around half of the genetic contribution to advanced AMD has been uncovered, little is known about the genetic architecture of early AMD. METHODS: To identify genetic factors for early AMD, we conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) meta-analysis (14,034 cases, 91,214 controls, 11 sources of data including the International AMD Genomics Consortium, IAMDGC, and UK Biobank, UKBB). We ascertained early AMD via color fundus photographs by manual grading for 10 sources and via an automated machine learning approach for > 170,000 photographs from UKBB. We searched for early AMD loci via GWAS and via a candidate approach based on 14 previously suggested early AMD variants. RESULTS: Altogether, we identified 10 independent loci with statistical significance for early AMD: (i) 8 from our GWAS with genome-wide significance (P < 5 × 10), (ii) one previously suggested locus with experiment-wise significance (P < 0.05/14) in our non-overlapping data and with genome-wide significance when combining the reported and our non-overlapping data (together 17,539 cases, 105,395 controls), and (iii) one further previously suggested locus with experiment-wise significance in our non-overlapping data. Of these 10 identified loci, 8 were novel and 2 known for early AMD. Most of the 10 loci overlapped with known advanced AMD loci (near ARMS2/HTRA1, CFH, C2, C3, CETP, TNFRSF10A, VEGFA, APOE), except two that have not yet been identified with statistical significance for any AMD. Among the 17 genes within these two loci, in-silico functional annotation suggested CD46 and TYR as the most likely responsible genes. Presence or absence of an early AMD effect distinguished the known pathways of advanced AMD genetics (complement/lipid pathways versus extracellular matrix metabolism). CONCLUSIONS: Our GWAS on early AMD identified novel loci, highlighted shared and distinct genetics between early and advanced AMD and provides insights into AMD etiology. Our data provide a resource comparable in size to the existing IAMDGC data on advanced AMD genetics enabling a joint view. The biological relevance of this joint view is underscored by the ability of early AMD effects to differentiate the major pathways for advanced AMD.
Wu J, Uchino M, Sastry SM, Schaumberg DA. Age-related macular degeneration and the incidence of cardiovascular disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One 2014;9(3):e89600.Abstract
IMPORTANCE: Research has indicated some shared pathogenic mechanisms between age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, results from prior epidemiologic studies have been inconsistent as to whether AMD is predictive of future CVD risk. OBJECTIVE: To systematically review population-based cohort studies of the association between AMD and risk of total CVD and CVD subtypes, coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke. DATA SOURCES: A systematic search of the PubMed and EMBASE databases and reference lists of key retrieved articles up to December 20, 2012 without language restriction. DATA EXTRACTION: Two reviewers independently extracted data on baseline AMD status, risk estimates of CVD and methods used to assess AMD and CVD. We pooled relative risks using random or fixed effects models as appropriate. RESULTS: Thirteen cohort studies (8 prospective and 5 retrospective studies) with a total of 1,593,390 participants with 155,500 CVD events (92,039 stroke and 62,737 CHD) were included in this meta-analysis. Among all studies, early AMD was associated with a 15% (95% CI, 1.08-1.22) increased risk of total CVD. The relative risk was similar but not significant for late AMD (RR, 1.17; 95% CI, 0.98-1.40). In analyses restricted to the subset of prospective studies, the risk associated with early AMD did not appreciably change; however, there was a marked 66% (95% CI, 1.31-2.10) increased risk of CVD among those with late AMD. CONCLUSION: Whereas the results from all cohort studies suggest that both early and late AMD are predictive of a small increase in risk of future CVD, subgroup analyses limited to prospective studies demonstrate a markedly increased risk of CVD among people with late AMD. Retrospective studies using healthcare databases may have inherent methodological limitations that obscure such association. Additional prospective studies are needed to further elucidate the associations between AMD and specific CVD outcomes.
Wu J, Cho E, Willett WC, Sastry SM, Schaumberg DA. Intakes of Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and Other Carotenoids and Age-Related Macular Degeneration During 2 Decades of Prospective Follow-up. JAMA Ophthalmol 2015;:1-10.Abstract

Importance: Despite strong biological plausibility, evidence from epidemiologic studies and clinical trials on the relations between intakes of lutein and zeaxanthin and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) has been inconsistent. The roles of other carotenoids are less thoroughly investigated. Objective: To investigate the associations between intakes of carotenoids and AMD. Design, Setting, and Participants: Prospective cohort study, with cohorts from the Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study in the United States. A total of 63 443 women and 38 603 men were followed up, from 1984 until May 31, 2010, in the Nurses' Health Study and from 1986 until January 31, 2010, in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. All participants were aged 50 years or older and were free of diagnosed AMD, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, and cancer at baseline. Main Outcomes and Measures: Predicted plasma carotenoid scores were computed directly from food intake, assessed by repeated food frequency questionnaires at baseline and follow-up, using validated regression models to account for bioavailability and reporting validity of different foods, and associations between predicted plasma carotenoid scores and AMD were determined. Results: We confirmed 1361 incident intermediate and 1118 advanced AMD cases (primarily neovascular AMD) with a visual acuity of 20/30 or worse by medical record review. Comparing extreme quintiles of predicted plasma lutein/zeaxanthin score, we found a risk reduction for advanced AMD of about 40% in both women and men (pooled relative risk comparing extreme quintiles = 0.59; 95% CI, 0.48-0.73; P for trend < .001). Predicted plasma carotenoid scores for other carotenoids, including β-cryptoxanthin, α-carotene, and β-carotene, were associated with a 25% to 35% lower risk of advanced AMD when comparing extreme quintiles. The relative risk comparing extreme quintiles for the predicted plasma total carotenoid index was 0.65 (95% CI, 0.53-0.80; P for trend < .001). We did not identify any associations of carotenoids, either as predicted plasma score or calculated intake, with intermediate AMD. Conclusions and Relevance: Higher intake of bioavailable lutein/zeaxanthin is associated with a long-term reduced risk of advanced AMD. Given that some other carotenoids are also associated with a lower risk, a public health strategy aimed at increasing dietary consumption of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables rich in carotenoids may reduce the incidence of advanced AMD.