Macular Degeneration – Does it Run in Families?

Macular Degeneration – Does it Run in Families?

Posted under Eye Conditions

Macular Degeneration - Does it run in families?

My husband’s father has wet age related macular degeneration (AMD).   Several of his father’s brothers and sisters also had AMD.  If you have a parent or sibling with macular degeneration, you may be wondering, does that mean you will develop it too? Although we can’t say for sure that living with macular degeneration is in your future,  the chances that you will  develop it are much higher than it is for those without family members with AMD.  The lifetime risk of developing late-stage macular degeneration is 50% for people who have a relative with macular degeneration vs 12% for people who’s relatives do not have macular degeneration (4x the risk).

Macular Degeneration Genetic Study

Currently there are several clinical trials looking at just this issue. One of them that we are participating in is called GARM II. Jules Stein Eye Institute in Los Angeles is the sponsor of the study.   GARM II is a research study looking at how different risk factors like genes, diet, and environment contribute to the development of AMD.  It is not a treatment study nor does it offer any type of prevention.  Those who are eligible to participate in the study are individuals between the ages of 49 to 65 years old who have at least one parent either deceased or alive with a diagnosis of macular degeneration – like my husband. They are also looking for individuals between the ages of 49 to 65 years old who are either a spouse or partner of an ARM at-risk adult – like me.

You do not need to live near Los Angeles or in California. The information about each participant is gathered through questionnaires on a confidential website.  A saliva sample that is done at home will be used to analyze the genes and any eye tests and records from your local eye doctor are sent to Jules Stein Institute.  If you are interested find out how you can participate here:

Macular Degeneration Genetic Research

Macular Degeneration Genetic Test

Did you know that there is now a test for those who are at high risk for developing age related macular degeneration? According to Dr. Edward Paul, OD, PHD “Genetic factors alone account for 63% of the disease risk for AMD. Other genetic markers combined with age, medical history, and smoking status allow for a highly predictive risk model to be generated for predicting AMD. “

Macula Risk, a new genetic test, covers the genotype spectrum for those who are at low risk for vision loss in the future as well as those that have a medium or high risk for severe vision loss. The test involves using a cotton swab on the inside of the patient’s cheek with a gentle brush. The swab is air dried and sent to the genetic laboratory for processing.

Find out if you should be tested, if it’s covered by insurance and what this test will tell you.

Macular Degeneration Test

Leslie Degner, RN, BSN