Calcified nodules in the retina are associated with progress in the late stages of macular degeneration associated with age (AMD).
Experts from the University of Queen Belfast, in collaboration with the University of Alabama, Birmingham and in collaboration with UK material scientists and American clinical ophthalmological practices, made the groundbreaking discovery that the calcified nodules in the retina – behind the eye – increase the risk of challenge in advanced AMD more than six times.
The findings could revolutionize treatment options for people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is the leading cause of vision impairment in older people worldwide.
There is no current cure for the majority of patients with AMD and irreversible loss of vision has been associated with depression and other health problems.
Experts conducted the survey as there is an urgent need to identify early events that could lead to loss of vision so that they can target these events.
The research, recently published in the journal Scientific Translation Medicine, Clinical imaging was used in patients by Dr. Bailey Freund (New York) and Srinivas R. Sadda (Los Angeles), and molecular analysis of eye samples by Dr Christine Curcio's laboratory at the University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB) – the first author Matthew Pilgrim.
The team found that large calcified nodules in the retina are associated with the progression of late stages of AMD, especially with the most insidious atrophic form of the disease, which currently lacks therapeutic options. Experts believe that with further research and timely intervention, some patients could actually be treated with simple measures such as altering their diet.
Dr. Imre Lengyel, Senior Lecturer and Researcher at the School of Medical Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen Belfast University, said: "Our research has revealed that early changes in the back of the eye can lead to the formation of hard mineral deposits of calcium and phosphate that can incorporate other types of trace elements, such as magnesium. The accumulation of these mineral deposits is indicative of irreversible damage to the retina. "
Dr Curcio, Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Alabama, said: "By fully understanding the causes behind the changing environment in which these large, destructive nodules develop, we can design new ways to intervene with their development earlier in the process disease, .
"Recognition of these risks associated with disease progression in the eye, especially the retina, could become a diagnostic tool for monitoring the progression of retinal degeneration, allowing ophthalmologists to advise their patients with more wisdom and allow us to think about slowing the progression of the disease, earlier in its course. "
The first author, Anna CS Tan MD, said: "AMD treatment is costly, but it is also caring or living in institutions." According to AMD's global cost, the cost is estimated to be over 300 billion worldwide. G Pilgrim continues: "Therefore, delaying AMD's progress, or even better, minimizing or eliminating risk factors, could lead to a significant reduction in the cost of health payers, individuals and society."
Dr. Jayakrishna Ambati, DuPont Guerry III, Professor of Ophthalmology and Director of the Center for Advanced Sciences at the University of Virginia, said: "This work will significantly advance the field and push new thinking into AMD."
The next steps for the research team will be to further understand the disease processes associated with this degeneration. The team will seek to define new treatment options for patients, which could be as simple as modifying the diet. Research will also allow ophthalmologists to advise their patients on the prognosis more fully, based on the details found in their clinical presentation.