Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Age-related macular degeneration occurs much earlier than previously assumed

21.07.2014

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

It is widely accepted that age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of visual impairment and blindness in industrialized countries. However, it is questionable whether it can continue to be defined as a disease in people in their 50s and beyond.

Investigations to determine the incidence of age-related macular degeneration undertaken as part of the Gutenberg Health Study of the University Medical Center of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) have shown that even persons under the age of 50 years may be affected by an early form of the eye disease. Just under 4 percent of the 35 to 44-year-old subjects in the population-based study were found to be suffering from AMD.

In order to identify the age- and gender-specific incidence of AMD, the research team of the Department of Ophthalmology at the Mainz University Medical Center led by Dr. Christina Korb, PD Dr. Alireza Mirshahi, and Professor Norbert Pfeiffer assessed the status of the ocular fundus of 4,340 participants in the Gutenberg Health Study. Evaluated were vascular structure, the head of the optic nerve, and the macula of the eye, which is the point of sharpest vision.

The results in general documented that the incidence of AMD increases with age. However, the researchers also discovered to their surprise that even persons under the age of 50 years can already be affected by early stage AMD. In the age group of 35- to 44-year-olds, 3.8 percent of the subjects in the Gutenberg Health Study were found to be suffering from the disease. The findings of the Mainz researchers thus contradict the current assumption that age-related macular degeneration only occurs in the section of the population that is over 50 years old.

With the help of their findings, the researchers were also able to gain insights into how frequently the various forms of age-related macular degeneration occur. On average, about 12 percent of the examined 35- to 74-year-olds had early stage AMD, but only 0.2 percent of the study participants exhibited symptoms of late stage AMD, which is often associated with severe visual impairment. "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," concluded Dr. Christina Korb.

Age-related macular degeneration leads to loss of visual acuity. The cause is damage to the cells in the region of the central retina also known as the "yellow spot." There is still insufficient information on the annual number of individuals who develop AMD and the Mainz-based researchers hope to be able to remedy this with the help of their next project. As the Gutenberg cohort was subjected to a follow-up examination five years after inclusion in the study, the research group has now access to more relevant and reliable data.

"The prospective design of the study, in combination with the availability of interdisciplinary research data, should make it possible for us to identify risk factors for the development of late forms of AMD in our cohort. We are looking forward with some excitement to the results," explained the team. The objective is to reveal, for the first time, the incidence of AMD across the whole population of Germany.

Information on the Gutenberg Health Study of the Mainz University Medical Center
The Gutenberg Health Study (GHS) is an interdisciplinary, population-based, prospective, monocenter cohort study, which has been conducted at the Mainz University Medical Center since 2007. Cardiovascular diseases, cancer, eye diseases, metabolic disorders as well as immune system and mental disorders are being investigated as part of the study. The goal of the study is to improve the individual risk prediction for these diseases. To this end, lifestyle, psychosocial factors, environment, clinical laboratory parameters, and the severity of any subclinical disorder are being taken into consideration.

A comprehensive biorepository is being developed so that molecular biological investigations can be conducted. During the baseline visit, 15,010 participants aged 35 to 74 years were invited to participate in a 5-hour examination program at the study center. This was followed by a computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI) using a standardized questionnaire and the assessment of diseases and health problems after 2.5 years. All endpoints will be subjected to extensive validation. In April 2012, a detailed follow-up examination of participants similar to the baseline examination was conducted at the center five years after their inclusion in the study. The aim is to continue to monitor the cohort and conduct further tests.
Further information at http://www.gutenberghealthstudy.org/.

Publication:
Korb C. A et al. (2014), Prevalence of age-related macular degeneration in a large European cohort: Results from the population-based Gutenberg Health Study. Graefes Archive for Clinical Experimental Ophthalmology,
DOI:10.1007/s00417-014-2591-9
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00417-014-2591-9

Further information:
Dr. med. Christina Korb
Head of Medical Retina
Dept. of Ophthalmology
Mainz University Medical Center
Langenbeckstr.1
D 55131 Mainz, GERMANY
phone +49 6131 17-5741
fax +49 6131 17-6620
e-mail: christina.korb@unimedizin-mainz.de

Press contact
Barbara Reinke
Press and Public Relations
Mainz University Medical Center
Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
D 55131 Mainz, GERMANY
phone +49 6131 17-7428
fax +49 6131 17-3496
e-mail: pr@unimedizin-mainz.de

About the University Medical Center of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
The University Medical Center of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz is the only facility of its kind in Rhineland-Palatinate. It consists of more than 60 clinics, institutes, and departments. Research and teaching are inextricably linked with medical treatment. Approximately 3,500 students of medicine and dentistry are trained in Mainz on a continuous basis. More information can be found at http://www.unimedizin-mainz.de/index.php?L=1

Petra Giegerich | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht How brains surrender to sleep
23.06.2017 | IMP - Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pathologie GmbH

nachricht A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>