Many people regard the field of medical genetics as futuristic or science fiction, but it’s actually very current and relevant, and affects the diagnosis and treatment of many common diseases right now. I have been routinely ordering genetic evaluations of patients with macular degeneration, and it has been very helpful in my clinical decision making regarding their care and treatment options. There are plenty of other eye diseases that are genetically influenced, and this is a rapidly evolving branch of medicine that will eventually shape how most, if not all, diseases are treated.
GENETICS OF AMD
With macular degeneration in particular, numerous genetic variants have been implicated in the disease. Approximately 15 genetic variants across 12 genes have been targeted specifically, with two particular biological pathways that seem to possess the most risk in progression to severe macular degeneration. These pathways have been named CFH and ARMS2, and an individual’s risk of severe vision loss can now be predicted based on whether or not they have the high risk variants of these genes.
The test used in my office utilizes a simple cheek swab that collects a patient’s DNA, which is sent to a lab in Michigan that returns results in a few weeks. The results indicate the patient’s genetic type of only the AMD-specific genes, and give a percentage risk of severe disease progression over the next 10 years. I have seen results in patients ranging from less than five percent chance of vision loss to over 80 percent chance of vision loss, which has changed how I treat individual patients significantly. I can now be more or less aggressive with antioxidant therapy, follow-up and education as needed. Research that helps to determine which vitamin therapy is better for which genotype is already present and growing. Most insurance companies cover this test for patients with signs of macular degeneration.
While genetics have been estimated to be accountable for up to 70 percent of a person’s risk of macular degeneration, there are still other known risk factors that are more controllable. These include:
Smoking is the most dangerous risk-inducing behavior, although it’s not known if it’s due to direct oxidative damage to the retina or if it simply acts to “turn on” the gene that then causes the damage. Regardless, a healthy lifestyle of diet and exercise, no smoking, and UV and HEV (blue light) protection can still serve to reduce risk of vision loss despite genetic predisposition to this disease.
WE ARE HERE TO HELP
If you or a loved one has early or intermediate macular degeneration, consider genetic testing to help determine the risk of progression to a more advanced, severe stage. It will allow us to help you prepare for early detection and treatment of worsening disease. Our office # is 704-821-5009.
Nobody likes accidentally jabbing themselves in the eye with a mascara applicator, but that isn’t the only eye health concern when it comes to cosmetics.
Makeup and certain cosmetic products can sometimes trigger allergic reactions, so it’s always a good idea to be careful when trying a new one for the first time. Equally serious is the risk of infection, which is what we’ll be focusing on today.
Another summer behind us, another school year just ahead.
So much to do to get ready.As you rush around getting new school clothes and school supplies, don’t forget to schedule your student’s back-to-school eye exam. This is an essential step for school readiness because poor vision can be a barrier to learning. Which might be why August is Back to School Eye Health Month.
What if my child wants contact lenses?
Wearing contact lenses can help teenagers feel more confident in their appearance. Contact lenses are also a great option for sports. These are advantages during this self-conscious age
Summer is the time for fun in the sun and in the water, but it’s definitely not the time to take a break from eye safety.Whether you love river rafting, surfing, water-skiing, deep sea diving, synchronized swimming, or just enjoying a leisurely swim at the local pool, you’re probably going to end up underwater at some point. Here are some tips to make sure your eyes stay safe and healthy when that happens.
Unless you're a pyrotechnic professional, there's no 100% safe way to use fireworks. But, almost everyone will partake this weekend (in some form or another) in celebration of the July 4th Independence Day holiday. Whether it's sparklers or Roman Candles, please be sure to take precautions and be safe because July is Fireworks Safety Month!
Father's Day is this Sunday - June is Men’s Health Month. Make sure the men in your life have healthy eyes by encouraging them to get a dilated eye exam.
Men are 16 percent more likely to present with advanced vision loss at eye clinics compared to women, according to researchers at City, University of London.
The study, which is published in the journal of Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics, highlights that men are more likely to ignore symptoms and not seek early medical attention until disease is significant. This presents a public health challenge for glaucoma and other diseases that benefit from early detection.
Prevent Blindness America has declared June as Cataract Awareness Month. Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in the United States, and it is the leading cause of blindness in the world. There are 24 million Americans over the age of 40 who are affected by cataracts, resulting in an annual estimated treatment cost of $6.8 billion. So it seems fitting that an entire month should be dedicated to education and awareness.
What are Cataracts?
Let’s start at the very beginning. A cataract is basically the clouding of the eye’s lens. The lens of the eye is normally clear that when it becomes clouded by a cataract, it can cause lost vision because not enough light is being let into the eye.
You may have plenty of commercials on TV about lutein. How about Zeaxanthin? I bet you have never heard of this.
What exactly are Lutein and Zeaxanthin?
Lutein and zeaxanthin are two types of carotenoids, which are yellow to red pigments found in vegetables and other plants. They are both powerful antioxidants that can protect your eyes and maintain healthy vision.
Lutein is a powerful antioxidant found in many vegetables. Lutein, along with Zeaxanthin, are already found naturally in your eyes, and they help protect your eyes from harmful high-energy light, such as ultraviolet rays.
In plants, lutein and zeaxanthin absorb excess light energy to prevent damage from too much sunlight, especially from high-energy blue light rays.
Studies also suggest that a high level of lutein and zeaxanthin promotes better vision, especially in dim light.
When it comes to our health, we often visit our doctor or nurse regularly to make sure our bodies are healthy. But what about our eyes? They’re not always top of mind, but they’re just as important.
During Healthy Vision Month, held each May, the NEI and us at Austin Village Eyecare encourages Americans to make their eye health a priority and informs them about steps they can take to protect their vision:
Taking these steps can help prevent vision loss or blindness from many eye diseases and conditions. In addition, comprehensive dilated eye exams can detect problems early, when they’re easier to treat.
Celebrate Healthy Vision Month by taking these steps today! You’ll help ensure your eyes are healthy and that you’re seeing well for a lifetime. We invite you to to your family, friends, colleagues and teammates.
Asl always, our team is ready to take calls, help answer questions and make your appointment. 704-821-5009.
Short-sightedness, or myopia - where distant objects are blurred while those that are closer can be seen clearly - is already a very common eye condition affecting millions of children.
But now doctors fear the condition is becoming even more prevalent.
Previous studies suggested there was a 2% reduced odds of myopia per additional hour of time spent outdoors per week. Yet it remained unclear which of the numerous elements associated with time spent outdoors, such as light intensity, ultraviolet radiation (UVR), or distant focus, reduces the risk of myopia.
Keeping in mind the benefits of sunlight, my family went to Arizona for a family vacation.
A great time was had by all! Here are some pictures!
A passionate eyecare provider with strong interest in new technology and great customer service.
Austin Village Eyecare
1013 Chestnut Ln Suite 210
Matthews, NC 28104