Correlation between genetic variants, diet and retinal phenotype in age-related macular degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of blindness in developed countries, predominantly affecting older people. This condition involves progressive damage to the central part of the retina (the tissue at the back of the eye that detects light) called the macula, which is responsible for our central vision and functions such as reading and seeing faces or fine detail. At the moment, treatment is only available for one type of AMD ("wet" AMD in which abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina). However, there is no treatment for patients with "dry" AMD and thus they are affected by progressing loss of vision. The causes of AMD remain incompletely understood, but appear to be a combination of genetic, dietary, and environmental factors which all affect the risk of an individual developing AMD and progressing to advanced stages of the disease.
The aim of this study is to improve our understanding of the causes of AMD, focusing on the effects of genetic risk factors and diet on AMD development. The study will take advance of comprehensive genetic, diet, blood, and retinal imaging data from the UK Biobank. Significant findings will be further validated in patients attending AMD eye clinics. Understanding how these factors interact with each other to increase a person's risk of developing AMD will be crucial for devising preventative lifestyle measures and developing new treatments for this major cause of blindness.