New research from government scientists paints a clearer picture of how genetics may play a role in age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, the leading cause of blindness in people age 60 and older.
Researchers have identified seven places on the human genome that seem to be linked with the vision loss condition, adding to the 12 that had been identified in previous research. The study is published in the journal Nature Genetics.
Currently there is no cure for age-related macular degeneration, which is a condition that causes vision loss because of cell death in the eye’s macula, according to the National Institutes of Health. There are two forms of the disease, wet and dry; wet AMD is caused when there are blood vessels that grow underneath the macula, whereas dry AMD is caused by the breakdown of cells in the macula.
While the biggest risk factor for the condition is age — after all, advanced AMD affects 15 percent of white women age 80 and older, according to the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology — genetics and other environmental factors are known to play a role. There has also been some recent evidence to suggest that aspirin may raise the risk for the condition, as well as C-reactive proteins (linked with inflammation).
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