by Adam Pope 1/23/19
Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, along with collaborators from the University of Iowa, have discovered a genetic biomarker that is associated with age-related macular degeneration and delayed rod-mediated dark adaptation.
“We have previously shown that delayed rod-mediated dark adaptation is the first functional risk factor for early AMD,” said Owsley, the Nathan E. Miles Chair of Ophthalmology. “Delayed dark adaptation means it takes these individuals much longer to adapt to a dark environment.” In other words, older adults with delayed dark adaptation have a heightened risk for developing AMD within the next few years.
In the recently published study, Owsley and Curcio, with collaborators Robert F. Mullins and Edwin M. Stone of the University of Iowa, established that older adults with delayed dark adaptation are also more likely to have these high-risk genetic polymorphisms at chromosome 1 and chromosome 10.
“This finding was the first genotype-functional phenotype association found in AMD research,” Owsley said. “What we find particularly exciting is that the ARMS2 genotype-phenotype association emerges even at pre-clinical stages of AMD … that is, in older adults who do not yet have AMD. Being able to assess risk at such an early stage could lead to new preventive measures”.