Blood Test Could Identify Macular Degeneration

Blood Test Could Identify Macular Degeneration

The slow but relentless progression of dry macular degeneration (wet moves more rapidly) can creep up on anyone at any time. Most prominent cases are diagnosed when over the age of sixty-five making it another health threat that could rob you of your sight during your hard-earned golden years. 

Macular degeneration, which was last estimated as afflicting upwards of 200 million people worldwide, is detected once it has already begun its irreversible damage. Now, researchers are close to developing a simple blood test that identifies markers for macular degeneration years before it affects sight. In addition, a preventative drug is also on the forefront which can be administered once these markers are distinguished. 

These new developments are promoted as possibly being able to save millions of people from going blind. 

Precision Medicine: Metabolomics

Science has advanced deeper than ever into identifying pathogenic genesis (beginnings of disease). Many clues have been discovered creating a “precision medicine” approach to recognizing pieces of the disease forming puzzle before the puzzle can be assembled. Metabolomics are a growing tool used to distinguish many potential diseases, including macular degeneration markers, before they become a full blown pathogen. 

According to the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), 

“Metabolomics is the large-scale study of small molecules, commonly known as metabolites, within cells, bio-fluids, tissues or organisms. Collectively, these small molecules and their interactions within a biological system are known as the metabolome. Just as genomics is the study of DNA and genetic information within a cell, [] metabolomics is the study of substrates [underlying substance or layer] and products of metabolism, which are influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. Metabolomics is a powerful approach because metabolites and their concentrations, unlike other “omics” measures, directly reflect the underlying biochemical activity and state of cells / tissues.”

The future hope is that medical practitioners will soon be able to inspect body fluids, such as blood and saliva, for early, preventative treatment. This technology could soon help you avoid developing many debilitating diseases like macular degeneration.

In the Blood

Your blood is your living fuel but it also carries all sorts of information that researchers have been able to connect to various potential health risks. From prostate compromise to liver disease blood markers are like emergency flares sent out by the body to be discovered. It took a while but conventional medicine has been tracking many markers for years and now macular degeneration could be added to the list. 

A study published in Ophthalmology and presented at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology Annual Meeting, Baltimore, MD reported on discrepancies in blood samples of AMD participants. Researchers used ultrahigh-performance liquid chromatography (UPLC) and high-resolution mass spectrometry (MS) to detect any performance anomalies (out of the ordinary differences). It was found that, “Multivariate logistic regression identified 87 metabolites with levels that differed significantly between AMD patients and controls.”

The conclusion of this study, which was published approximately one year before current research which is getting closer to blood detection and preventative medicine development, stated that, 

“These findings have the potential to improve our understanding of AMD pathogenesis, to support the development of plasma-based metabolomics biomarkers of AMD, and to identify novel targets for treatment of this blinding disease.”

Stopping Inflammation Before It Starts

Using a first of its kind ‘light model,’ researchers at The John Curtin School of Medical Research and ANU (Australian National University) Medical School created photoreceptor cell deterioration in the lab. 

Lead Researcher Dr. Riccardo Natoli commented on macula research and how stopping early inflammation may be the key to stopping macular degeneration, 

“From our modeling we noticed an inflammatory response was happening [on the macula] as a consequence of the [late diagnosed] damage,..We are focusing on early diagnosis and early treatment strategies that slow down the inflammatory response to see if we can slow the progression of the disease. The macular is the part of the retina that helps you see the grooves on your fingerprints. It is only 5.5 mm, so if an area equivalent to the size of a pin head starts dying—it renders you legally blind.”

Clinical trials for macular degeneration blood detection and preventative drug studies are expected to begin in 2019. 

Natural Ways To Stop Macular Degeneration Inflammation

Until this medical technology makes it into the conventional mainstream (which may be sooner than you think) there are some things you can do to naturally avoid, reduce, or in some cases even reverse macular degeneration inflammation. According to Vision Aware, this is a checklist to remind you of the threats and benefits to your vision health: 

  • Smoking – Current smokers have a 2-3 times higher risk for developing AMD than do people who never smoked. It’s best to avoid second-hand smoke as well.
  • Sunlight – Ultraviolet (UV) light is not visible to the human eye, but can damage the lens and retina. Blue light waves that make the sky, or any object, appear blue, are visible to the human eye and can also damage the lens and retina. [] Avoid UV light and blue/violet light as much as possible by wearing sunglasses with an amber, brown, or orange tint that blocks both blue and UV light.
  • Uncontrolled hypertension – The National Eye Institute (NEI) reports that persons with hypertension were 1.5 times more likely to develop wet macular degeneration than persons without hypertension. It’s important to keep your blood pressure controlled within normal limits. Natural blood pressure control tips include: more cardio-exercise, less sodium, lose weight, meditation, clean diet, drink less alcohol and caffeine.
  • Avoid processed foods – NEI suggests that eating antioxidant-rich foods, such as fresh fruits and dark green leafy vegetables (kale, collard greens, and spinach) may delay the onset or reduce the severity of AMD. Eating at least one serving of fatty fish (salmon, tuna, or trout) per week may also delay the onset or reduce the severity of AMD.

Combining these and many other natural ways to stop macular degeneration inflammation with early detection is paramount. Therefore, when a blood test is able to identify macular degeneration markers, you will be able to increase the many nutritional as well as preventative applications. Add on a pharmaceutical approach and the chances of staving off AMD is hopeful, with many reporting that more than hope, it is more than possible. 

These discoveries are bringing precision medicine to the forefront. They are forging a future that may one day have no more need for late stage treatment such as ocular injections or surgery rendering macular degeneration a thing of the past.