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Age-related macular degeneration occurs much earlier than previously assumed
Date:7/21/2014

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
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Contact: Christina Korb
christina.korb@unimedizin-mainz.de
49-613-117-5741
Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet Mainz
Source:Eurekalert

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