|AAO Reports - Genetic Testing|
Dry Macular Degeneration was on the agenda at the Retina Days of the American Academy of Ophthalmology annual conference last week.
People with dry AMD make up the vast majority of those who have macular degeneration (85-90%) but there is no medical treatment for this form of the disease. That may be changing. In the meantime, more is being learned about vitamin supplementation and its role in slowing progression.Genetic Testing
25 different genes have been identified as being connected to macular degeneration. We do know that AMD runs in families. So, does it make sense for those at risk for AMD to obtain genetic testing? Can these commercial tests let individuals know about their genetic risk? And, if they do, what next?
Dr. Ivana Kim from Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, addressed these questions. Her advice is that commercial genetic testing is not quite ready for use and might even be a bad idea at this point.
Although we know some of the genetic markers for AMD, we don't know all of them. Also, there are a fair number of false negatives and false positives that turn up in these tests. More to the point, if people discover they DO possess an AMD gene, what will they do? There is currently no treatment to prevent AMD. And, regardless of genetic results, we should all be controlling other risk factors by following a healthy diet, wearing sunglasses, not smoking, and controlling blood pressure and cholesterol. It just makes sense.
Dr. Kim was equally concerned about the effect a genetic test could potentially have on an individual's health insurance. The test result could tag a "pre-existing condition" which might make it hard to get coverage for macular degeneration treatments.