troy your central vision, impairing your ability to perform common daily tasks such as reading, driving, or watching television.
One in ten people will lose vision from AMD in their lifetime.
How does AMD develop?
Central vision is controlled by a small but important part of your eye called the macula, which allows you to see fine details straight ahead of you. In the early stages of AMD, vision may be only mildly distorted. Approximately 20% of people will progress to advanced AMD, and if not caught early can lead to devastating visual loss.
Risk factors for AMD
Age-Related Macular Degeneration, or AMD, is a genetic disease, meaning that it is inherited. Genetics account for over 70% of the risk of developing AMD, so having a first-degree relative (mother, father, brother, sister) with AMD suggests that you have a significantly increased risk of developing the disease. In fact, the strength of association between AMD and certain risk-associated genes is greater than that between cigarette smoking and lung cancer.
Regardless of family history, if you have early signs of AMD, then you should speak to your eye care professional. In addition, let your family members know so that they can speak with their doctors to determine if measures such as more regular eye examinations and testing with Macula Risk® are appropriate.
Vigilance–the key to maintaining sight
When vision loss from AMD starts to occur, most people don’t recognize the problem immediately. Because vision loss usually occurs in one eye first and loss of sight can take place over weeks and months, the second eye compensates for the deterioration of vision. As a result, up to 80% of people don’t see their eye care professional until it is too late to protect the sight in that eye. To catch vision loss early, regular eye exams are very important.
Early diagnosis and determination of risk is critical
Early detection, diagnosis, and treatment lead to better visual outcomes. When you understand your risk, you and your eye care provider can develop a program to manage your disease. Monitoring and treatment can begin before your symptoms progress, enabling you to achieve the best vision outcome.
Based on your Macula Risk® test result, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes including:
- smoking cessation
- increased dietary antioxidant consumption (dark green and brightly colored vegetables)
- micronutrient supplementation
- control of blood pressure, cholesterol, and body weight, and
- use of UV-protective eyewear
If you are at an elevated risk (Macula Risk Level 3, 4, and 5), you may benefit from an increased frequency of eye examinations, disease education, and possibly at-home vision testing.
The earlier you understand your risk, the better your chance to save your sight.
What is Macula Risk®?
Macula Risk is a DNA test that determines your risk of losing vision from AMD by detecting eight variations within four different genes that are known to be indicators for risk of vision loss. Once the test has been performed, your results, along with your smoking status, are used to place you into one of five different risk categories with dramatic differences in prognosis. Your doctor will then use this information to help determine which preventative measures and therapeutic interventions best suit your individual needs.
About Macula Risk®
How does a patient take the test? Macula Risk is only available from an eye care professional. The sample is a simple cheek swab which the doctor then sends to the lab so that the test can be performed. Your doctor will have your results back from the lab within 3-4 weeks.
How accurate is Macula Risk? DNA laboratory testing is very accurate. The laboratory service has validated the Macula Risk test to greater than 99.9% accuracy. The predictive power of progressive to advanced AMD is over 80%.
How often does a patient need to take this test? Each individual only needs to take this test once in their lifetime as genetic predisposition does not change.
Who pays for Macula Risk? Macula Risk is reimbursed by most insurers including Medicare.