A new study supports the importance of essential fatty acids as an independent, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) risk factor for children of parents with AMD.
Children of parents with AMD have a 45% lifetime risk of developing the disease, according to genetic studies. High foveal macular pigment optical density (MPOD) has a protective effect while individuals with a foveal macular pigment dip (FMPD) are at increased risk, reported authors of the Early biomarkers of AMD (EBAMD) study.
“Reduced central macular pigment optical density is often associated with major AMD risks, including increased age, family history, smoking, female gender, light iris colour and inflammatory conditions such as diabetes. Increased prevalence of an atypical central dip, here collectively termed the ‘foveal macular pigment dip’, is a further risk factor for AMD and has been associated with age, smoking, certain ethnicities and intake of dietary carotenoids.”
To investigate the prevalence of FMPD in healthy, high-risk of developing AMD offspring, 130 Caucasian individuals of AMD parents were recruited from Scripps Mericos Eye Institute, La Jolla, US, between 2012 and 2017. Mean age was 62.8 (8.6) years; 94 were female. Macula pigment 3D topography, genetic cheek swabs, mix of serum dietary carotenoids, long-term red blood cell (RBC) omega-3 fatty acid status, common secondary clinical structural and vision function parameters were obtained in the study.
Findings showed the percentage of FMPD in AMD offspring was common (41%), and nearly twice that reported for the general population in the scientific literature. The percentage of RBC membrane docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) was reduced in FMPD offspring vs control offspring (P = 0.04), and the omega-3 index was significantly decreased in the FMPD group (P = 0.03). The FMPD group was about four years younger than those without FMPD (controls; P = 0.012), had thinner foveas (P = 0.010), while no differences were established in gender, BMI, % body fat, visual acuity or contrast sensitivity between those with and without FMPD.
“Given the global AMD epidemic, Scripps EBAMD data is of clinical interest since participants were all AMD offspring lacking three of the major predisposing factors attributable to the MPOD foveal dip phenomenon: advanced age, smoking and an AMD clinical diagnosis,” authors concluded recommending further research to measure MPOD distribution in AMD offspring.
The study was published in BMC Ophthalmology.