A Way to Uncover Macular Degeneration in Your Future
Some risk factors for macular degeneration can be controlled, such as losing weight and smoking. However, your genetics – one of the strongest risk factors – cannot be changed. At this point you may be wondering what’s the benefit in knowing your genetics if you can’t alter them? Basically, once you are armed with the knowledge of a genetic predisposition for macular degeneration, you can seek aggressive and personalized treatment as early as possible.
Interested in finding out your eye health risks for macular degeneration? Our eye doctor at Glenmore Optometry, serving Kelowna, BC, will answer your questions and help determine if the macula risk test is for you.
How Does Genetic Testing Work?
You have DNA in every cell of your body, and DNA consists of pairs of chromosomes that determine your body’s characteristics. Altogether, these chromosomal clusters make up your genes. In addition to dictating your features (eye and hair color, etc…), genes also send messages to form molecules that allow your body to function efficiently and protect itself against disease. Yet, these genes don’t always work perfectly.
In 2005, a number of scientific studies discovered the particular gene that sends information to either protect the retina against inflammation and damage, or increase its susceptibility to macular degeneration. When this gene is defective, it causes unintended injury to retinal tissues. According to this scientific research, people who have this genetic variant are two to four times more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Later research studies isolated even more variants on the gene, and found that some genes can lead to as much as 40 times the risk of developing AMD!
How Can the Macula Risk Test Help?
The Macula Risk Test cannot predict the future. It cannot tell you with 100% certainty if you will develop AMD. Instead, it assesses your genetic risk in comparison with the general public. If you find out that you are at an increased risk of macular degeneration, you will know to visit your eye doctor more regularly for comprehensive eye exams and close monitoring. That way, intervention and treatment can begin from the moment a change in your retinal health is detected. And the earlier that macular degeneration is diagnosed and treated, the more successful the treatment is at preventing vision loss.
Connection Between AREDS Vitamins and Macula Risk Results
In March 2016, the Macular Degeneration Association released an urgent warning to anyone with intermediate dry age-related macular degeneration. This warning advised people to discuss their Age Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) vitamins immediately with their eye doctor. The reason for the urgency is because studies revealed that some AREDS vitamin formulas with zinc may actually be harmful for AMD patients with a particular genetic profile. Some people with this genetic profile experienced a significant deterioration of their macular degeneration, when taking AREDS with zinc. These findings give new meaning to the Macula Risk Test, because eye doctors can now use a patient’s genetic profile to figure out the best eye supplement formulations that they should take for AMD.
How is the Macula Risk Test Done?
Within the comfort of our Kelowna eye care center, our eye doctor will swipe a cotton swab on the inside of your cheek. This swab is then sent for DNA testing in a specialized genetics lab.
Should You Be Tested?
Macula Risk provides important information about a person’s risk of developing AMD, as well as how a patient with AMD will progress. Macular degeneration advances differently between individuals, and not everyone with AMD ends up with severe vision loss. In addition to genetics, other risk factors that contribute to the disease are gender, age, sun exposure, diet, and smoking. Given all of this information, your eye doctor is best suited to make the decision about how you would benefit from Macula Risk.
Kelowna patients are invited to make an informed decision by visiting one of our Optometrists, at Glenmore Optometry, to discuss their potential benefits from Macula Risk testing.