Scientists Find A Cause Of Vision Loss Disease In Older People

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Researchers at Genentech in South San Francisco recently conducted a study aimed at identifying drug targets that could help address age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

AMD is a condition that affects the central part of the retina, causing a loss of central vision, and can result in blindness.

This condition is at the center of vision problems for around 200 million people worldwide.

The study, which was published in Cell Genomics, describes the steps that the researchers took to identify genes that could be targeted by a molecular atlas of AMD pathology development stages.

By using this approach, the team was able to identify 23 significant genome-wide loci that are differentially methylated in AMD.

The researchers generated bulk-tissue and single-cell transcriptomics and epigenomics data from 85 unique human donor eyes to understand the molecular changes occurring as AMD develops.

They analyzed tissue transcriptomes of early, intermediate, and two types of advanced-stage AMD.

In total, over 1,000 differentially expressed genes were found across disease stages and distinct Müller cell states in AMD-affected eyes.

The research highlights causal gene upregulations and underlying genetic risks for AMD.

One of the interesting findings of the study is the different clusters of Müller glia cell states: basal, AMD, and gliotic.

The team observed that although Müller gliosis is a common feature in retinal diseases and injury, the AMD Müller cluster did not show higher expression of gliosis markers, a finding that differs from retinal injury models often used in AMD translational research.

Moreover, the research pointed out that the gliotic state appears to be a crucial intermediate between normal Müller glia and the stem cell identity in retinal regeneration.

This suggests that as retinal regeneration research translates into therapeutic strategies, a deeper understanding of the disease state Müller glia is needed.

The researchers have identified a robust number of relevant gene mechanisms related to AMD that will likely form the basis for future research on the subject.

This study is an important step toward developing effective treatments for AMD.

How to prevent AMD

While the causes of AMD are not yet fully understood, there are some steps you can take to help prevent or slow down its progression.

Quit smoking: Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors for AMD. If you smoke, quitting can significantly reduce your risk of developing the condition.

Eat a healthy diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and fish may help reduce your risk of AMD. In particular, dark leafy greens like spinach and kale are high in lutein and zeaxanthin, two nutrients that have been shown to protect the retina.

Exercise regularly: Regular exercise has been linked to a lower risk of AMD. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking or cycling, on most days of the week.

Manage your blood pressure and cholesterol: High blood pressure and cholesterol can damage the blood vessels in the eyes, increasing the risk of AMD.

If you have high blood pressure or cholesterol, talk to your doctor about ways to manage these conditions.

Protect your eyes from sunlight: Exposure to sunlight can increase the risk of AMD. Wear sunglasses that block out UV rays and a wide-brimmed hat when you are outside.

Get regular eye exams: Regular eye exams can help detect AMD early, when it is easier to treat. If you are over the age of 50 or have a family history of AMD, talk to your eye doctor about how often you should have an eye exam.

Consider taking supplements: Some studies have suggested that supplements containing vitamins C, E, zinc, and copper may help slow down the progression of AMD in people with intermediate or advanced stages of the condition.

If you care about eye health, please read studies that MIND diet may reduce risk of vision loss disease, and Vitamin D could benefit people with diabetic neuropathic pain.

For more information about health, please see recent studies that Vitamin E could help reduce blood sugar and insulin resistance in diabetes, and results showing blinding eye disease strongly linked to heart disease and stroke.

The study was conducted by Luz D. Orozco et al and published in Cell Genomics.

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