A US study found 85% of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD) or stroke also had subretinal drusenoid deposits (SDD).
“For the last three decades, researchers have suggested an association between AMD and cardiovascular disease, but there have been no conclusive data on this until now,” said lead author Professor R Theodore Smith, of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Prof Smith explained her team used advanced retinal imaging with 126 AMD patients and discovered AMD with SDD is tightly connected to high-risk vascular diseases, while the other form, known as drusen, is not. Researchers said the poor ocular circulation that causes SDDs is likely a manifestation of underlying vascular disease. Further, analysis aided by artificial intelligence showed the combination of SDD and high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol <62 mg/dL predicted high-risk CVD with 87% accuracy.
However, researchers noted SDD was not always indicative of CVD, with the ARMS2 gene acting independently to cause SDD in some patients. Non-SDDs were associated with higher high-density lipoprotein, complement factor H (CFH, mutations of which are associated with life-threatening kidney disease) risk, and two lipid risk genes. “These and other distinct associations suggest that these lesions are markers for distinct diseases,” concluded researchers.