Genetic risk factors and age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

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  • Richard Armstrong
  • Maryam Mousavi

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Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in individuals older than 65 years of age. It is a multifactorial disorder and identification of risk factors enables individuals to make lifestyle choices that may reduce the risk of disease. Collaboration between geneticists, ophthalmologists, and optometrists suggests that genetic risk factors play a more significant role in AMD than previously thought. The most important genes are associated with immune system modulation and the complement system, e.g., complement factor H (CFH), factor B (CFB), factor C3, and serpin peptidase inhibitor (SERPING1). Genes associated with membrane transport, e.g., ATP-binding cassette protein (ABCR) and voltage-dependent calcium channel gamma 3 (CACNG3), the vascular system, e.g., fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2), fibulin-5, lysyl oxidase-like gene (LOXL1) and selectin-P (SELP), and with lipid metabolism, e.g., apolipoprotein E (APOE) and hepatic lipase (LIPC) have also been implicated. In addition, several other genes exhibit some statistical association with AMD, e.g., age-related maculopathy susceptibility protein 2 (ARMS2) and DNA excision repair protein gene (ERCC6) but more research is needed to establish their significance. Modifiable risk factors for AMD should be discussed with patients whose lifestyle and/or family history place them in an increased risk category. Furthermore, calculation of AMD risk using current models should be recommended as a tool for patient education. It is likely that AMD management in future will be increasingly influenced by assessment of genetic risk as such screening methods become more widely available.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-184
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Optometry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013


  • age-related macular degeneration (AMD), complement factor H (CFH), genetics, modifiable risk factors, risk factor assessment scores

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