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Genetic susceptibility to age related macular degeneration


Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of visual impairment in the elderly and a major cause of blindness in the developed world. The disease can take two forms, geographic atrophy and choroidal neovascularisation. The pathogenesis of AMD is poorly understood. There are undoubtedly environmental and other risk factors involved and the adverse effect of smoking is well established. Several studies have shown that genetic factors are important but leave uncertainty about the magnitude and nature of the genetic component and whether it varies with the type of AMD. Several hereditary retinal dystrophies show similarities to AMD and these genes are potential candidate susceptibility genes. Particular interest has focused on theABCR gene which is responsible for autosomal recessive Stargardt macular dystrophy. It has been claimed that heterozygotes for ABCR mutations are predisposed to AMD but the data are conflicting. Studies of the genes responsible for autosomal dominant Sorsby fundus dystrophy, Doyne honeycomb retinal dystrophy, and Best disease have given negative results. In one large AMD family, linkage has been reported to markers in 1q25-q31. Recent data suggest that the ApoE ε4 allele may be associated with reduced risk of AMD. A better understanding of the genetic factors in AMD would contribute to understanding the pathogenesis. If those at risk could be identified it may be possible to modify lifestyle or develop novel therapies in the presymptomatic stage to prevent disease or decrease its severity.

  • age related macular degeneration
  • genetic susceptibility

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