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[31/08/2014] Age-related macular degeneration occurs much earlier than previously assumed

Even individuals under the age of 50 years can suffer early forms of AMD

Investigations as part of the Gutenberg Health Study have shown that people as young as 35 can be affected by the early signs of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

 Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) causes damage to the cells in the region of the central retina also known as the macula or "yellow spot.". This leads to loss of visual acuity, and in some cases to loss of vision.

It is widely accepted that age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of visual impairment and blindness in industrialized countries. New research shows that AMD can occur at an earlier age in life.
The Gutenberg Health Study at the University Medical Center of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) has shown that people younger than 50 years old may become affected by theearly form of the eye disease (dry AMD). The study found that four percent of 35 to 44-year-old subjects were affected by the early stages of AMD; a younger age than previously thought.

The findings also helped to suggest how frequently different forms of AMD occur. They discovered that 12 percent of participants aged 35 - 74 had early stage AMD, but only 0.2 percent were affected by the late stage of the condition. The investigators looked at the status of the ocular fundus of 4,340 participants in the Gutenberg Health Study. They evaluated were vascular structure, the head of the optic nerve, and the macula of the eye, which is responsible for sharpest vision. The incidence of AMD and its increases with age was also recorded.

In this study the investigators were surprised to discover that even persons younger than 50 years old can be affected by early stage AMD. In the age group of 35- to 44-year-olds, 3.8 percent of the subjects were found to be already suffering from AMD disease. This finding contradicts the current assumption (based on Mainz study) that that age-related macular degeneration only occurs in the section of the population that is over 50 years old.

Dr. Christina Korb, the investigator in this study concluded that: "Our research shows that age-related macular degeneration can already occur much earlier than previously thought. This means there may also be possible consequences with regard to the screening examinations for these diseases,"

Sources:

- C. A. Korb et al. (2014), Prevalence of age-related macular degeneration in a large European cohort: Results from the population-based Gutenberg Health Study, Graefe's Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology,
DOI:10.1007/s00417-014-2591-9

-http://www.amd.org/macular-degeneration-starts-earlier/



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