Study: AMD Isn't Always Age-Related
Age-related macular degeneration, until now seen as a condition of people in their 50s and beyond, is more prevalent in younger people than previously thought, according to new statistics.
The findings comes from researchers at Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany. The investigators found that just under 4 percent of 35- to 44-year-old people in their study were affected by AMD.
The illness is the most common cause of visual impairment and blindness in industrialized countries.
As part of the Gutenberg Health Study, the research team looked at the eye health of 4,340 participants, evaluating the vascular structure of the eye, and the eye’s macula, the point of sharpest vision.
Although the results in some ways confirmed what was already known – the incidence of AMD increases with age – the researchers were surprised to discover the incidence of AMD in younger people as well.
Overall, about 12 percent of all the subjects, from 35 to 74 years old, had early stage AMD, while only 0.2 percent showed symptoms of late stage AMD.
But the surprising prevalence of the illness in younger people may mean a substantive difference in screening for the illness.
“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,” said lead researcher Dr. Christina Korb.