Genes Lifestyle Affect Aging Eyes

November 12, 2012

Genes Lifestyle Affect Aging Eyes

Researchers say that key to Macular Degeneration lies in Genetic and Lifestyle Factors

Macular degeneration (AMD) is a condition that is the leading reason for sight loss in the United States. Sometimes called age related macular degeneration, it has no cure and is caused when the retina’s condition worsens.

However a new report by Johanna Seddon, MD, ScM, and colleagues shows that lifestyle and your genes may influence the chances of you being affected. The report appears in The Journal of the American Medical Association and Seddon is employed in Boston at the Ophthalmic Epidemiology and Genetics Service of the Tufts-New England Medical Center.

Although incurable, macular degeneration can be treated with vision aids, medications, vitamins and laser therapy.

The research identifies that two gene variations make advanced macular degeneration more probable in certain people, particularly in smokers who are overweight or obese.

These findings have caused the researchers to advise that people should eat a balanced healthy diet, exercise regularly and lose weight if they are overweight or obese to reduce the risk of developing AMD. This advice is good irrespective of what gene variations you may have.

The AMD small scale Study

The study ran for about six years and researchers studied 1,466 people, all aged between 55 and 80 years. At the onset of the study all of the participants had been diagnosed as having macular degeneration with the majority of cases classed as mild to moderately severe.

During the period of time that the study ran for 281 people’s condition deteriorated to the classification ‘advanced’. These people were those with the highest likelihood of having variations in the CFH and LOC genes. It was found that people having two copies of the variant CFH gene were 2.6 times more likely to develop AMD and 4 times higher if the person had two copies of the LOC gene variant when compared against participants with no gene variants.

If the participant was overweight and a smoker then their level of risk increased even more. Smokers who were overweight and had two copies of the LOC variant in addition to two copies of the CFH variant then the risk of developing AMD was 19 times that of a slim non smoker who did not have any variations in their genes.

The researchers believe that the results found indicate that the risk of developing AMD comes from factors relating to genes and to lifestyle. They also think that in the future a ‘risk profile’ may be drawn up after studying the patient’s lifestyle and genetic aspects.

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