Is age-related macular degeneration a manifestation of systemic disease? New prospects for early intervention and treatment.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common vision-threatening condition affecting the elderly. AMD shares common risk factors and processes, including vascular and inflammatory pathways, with many systemic disorders. Associations have been reported between AMD and hypertension, cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, dyslipidaemia, chronic kidney disease and neurodegenerative disorders. An increasing amount of evidence suggests that individuals with AMD are also at risk of systemic diseases such as stroke. In this review, we summarize the latest evidence to support the notion that AMD is an ocular manifestation of systemic disease processes, and discuss the potential systemic side effects of ocular AMD therapy of which general physicians should be aware. Recent genetic discoveries and understanding of the pathogenic pathways in AMD in relation to systemic disorders are also highlighted.
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