Researchers discover that calcifications in the eye increase risk for progression to advanced AMD
New research show that calcified nodules in the eye increase the risk for progression to advanced AMD more than six times.
Calcified nodules in the retina are associated with progression to late stages of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Experts from Queen's University Belfast, working in partnership with The University of Alabama at Birmingham and in collaboration with UK material scientists and US clinical ophthalmology practices, made the ground-breaking discovery that the calcified nodules in the retina – the thin layer of tissue that lines the back of the eye – increase the risk for progression to advanced AMD more than six times.
The findings could revolutionise treatment options for people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is the leading cause of vision impairment in older individuals worldwide.
There is no current treatment for the majority of patients with AMD and irreversible visual loss has been associated with depression and other health problems.
Experts carried out the research as there is an urgent need to identify early events that might lead to visual loss so that these events can be targeted.
The research, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, used clinical imaging in patients from ophthalmologists K. Bailey Freund (New York) and Srinivas R. Sadda (Los Angeles), and molecular analysis of eye samples from the laboratory of Dr Christine Curcio at The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), by co-first author Matthew Pilgrim.
The team discovered that large calcified nodules in the retina were associated with progression of late stages of AMD, especially with the more insidious atrophic form of the disease, of which there are currently no treatment options. The experts believe that with further research and with early intervention, some patients could actually be treated with simple measures such as modifying their diet.
Dr Imre Lengyel, Senior Lecturer and Researcher in the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen's University Belfast, said:
"Our research revealed that early changes in the back of the eye can lead to the build-up of hard mineral deposits, made of calcium and phosphate that may incorporate other types of trace metals, like magnesium. The build-up of these mineral deposits are an indicator of irreversible damage of the retina."