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Macular Degeneration

DNA testing reveals genetic predisposition. Save a loved one’s sight with a cheek swab

The Macular Degeneration Association (MDA) issued an urgent warning in March of 2016 to those who have been diagnosed with intermediate dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The warning advised patients to talk with their eye doctor about commonly prescribed eye vitamins using the Age Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) formula containing zinc, which upon further review might actually be harmful to some patients.  MDA reports, “Research published in the journal Ophthalmology in 2013 and in 2015 by Dr. Carl Awh (Tennessee Retina) et al., demonstrated that 35% of patients had a genetic profile, which did well on the AREDS formulation including zinc. It also showed that for 13% of patients with a different genetic profile the standard AREDS formula was detrimental and significantly accelerated vision loss faster than placebo.”

At this time the leaders and ophthalmologists of MDA are recommending a simple genetic test for those with intermediate dry AMD  “that could potentially indicate the difference between slowing or accelerating the progression of vision loss.”  The name of the genetic test that can provide this helpful information is called the Macula Risk Test.

Who Should Be Tested?

Macula Risk can predict how a patient with AMD will progress.  Not everyone who has dry AMD progresses to more advanced stages that result in severe vision loss. Predicting which patients are at risk for developing advanced AMD is difficult because there are many risk factors that contribute to this disease such as age, gender, and genetics as well as diet, sun exposure and smoking.  According to Dr. Edward Paul,  “This newer test for those diagnosed with AMD covers the genotype spectrum for those who are at a low risk for vision loss in the future as well as those that have a medium or high risk for severe vision loss. “

How is The Genetic Testing Done?

The test is administered in our office using a cotton swab on the inside of the patient’s cheek.  The swab is then sent to a genetic laboratory for DNA testing.  In light of the new findings that certain genetic profiles do worse using the original AREDS eye vitamin formula, Macula Risk is “designed to determine a patient’s risk of progression to advanced Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and aid in the selection of appropriate eye supplement formulations for AMD based on his or her individual genetic risk profile.”

The next time you visit, ask the doctor whether you would benefit from the genetic testing so you can make an informed decision about your eye vitamin selection.

Age Related Macular Degeneration - Goodrich Optical
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