Preventing Vision Loss with Age

Advanced macular degeneration detected with validated risk assessment models

(RxWiki News) It can be alarming when your vision starts to decline with age. Unfortunately there hasn't been much you could do about it. A new method of predicting who is at risk might help with earlier treatment though.

Development of a risk model will offer earlier treatment options for those at greatest risk of developing advanced macular generation. It also would allow doctors and patients to know when such a progression may occur.

"Get eye exams at least annually."

Dr. Michael L. Klein, a doctor from from the Casey Eye Institute at the Oregon Health & Science University,  said the results could be valuable in clinical practice in helping to determine the frequency of follow up exams and the possibility of home monitoring.

It would also enable vision doctors to suggest lifestyle changes that could be beneficial such as diet changes and the use of nutritional supplements.

The risk model exams include factors such as demographics, the environment, genetics and physical characteristics. Researchers used data from the Age-Related Eye Disease Study, which included DNA samples, medical and eye health history  and examinations. Patients were followed for an average of 9.3 years.

They developed the model to predict the eye disease in those who never had the condition, as well as those who already had it in one eye but were possibly at risk for developing it in the other.

Of the 2,602 study participants who did not have advanced macular degeneration, 24 percent developed it during follow up. In patients who already had advanced macular degeneration in one eye, 82 percent with a type that gradually deteriorated retinal cells developed the disease in the other eye, while 56 percent who had a type in which blood vessels form and then leak developed it in their second eye.

Dr. Klein said the model performed well on discrimination, calibration and overall performance, and can be an asset in assessing macular degeneration risk.

"Validated risk assessment models are becoming more popular to help doctors and patient objectively assess their disease state," said Dr. Christopher Quinn, an optometrist with Omni Eye Services. "A validated risk assessment model for ARMD would be helpful to both patients and doctors in understanding their individual risk of developing significant loss of vision."

The report was published in Archives of Ophthalmology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

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Review Date: 
August 10, 2011