In a recent study, researchers found that one eye health condition, calcified nodules in the retina, is linked to a much higher risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
They found that this eye condition may increase the risk for progression to advanced AMD more than six times.
The research was conducted by experts from Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Alabama of Birmingham and their collaborators.
AMD is the leading cause of vision impairment in older individuals worldwide.
Currently, there is no treatment for AMD. Irreversible visual loss has been linked to depression and other health problems.
In this study, the team used clinical imaging in patients and molecular analysis of eye samples.
They found that early changes in the back of the eye could cause the build-up of hard mineral deposits made of calcium and phosphate.
The build-up of these mineral deposits is an indicator of irreversible damage of the retina.
The condition was linked to the progression of late stages of AMD and could lead to blindness.
The researchers suggest that their finding may help develop a diagnostic tool for monitoring the progression of retinal degeneration.
For example, ophthalmologists can counsel their patients more wisely and doctors may find ways to slow or halt the progression of the disease, earlier in its stages.
In the future, the team will further their understanding of the disease processes associated with this degeneration.
They hope to help determine new treatment options for patients, which could be as simple as a modification of diet.
With further research and with early intervention, some patients may actually be treated with simple measures.
The research is published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
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