A recent study showed that visual deterioration with age can be a precursor to a stroke or heart attack.
Here’s how a certain form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is linked to cardiovascular disease.
Patients with a certain form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are more likely to have the underlying heart damage from heart failure, heart attacks, according to a new study by researchers at Mount Sinai Eye and Ear Hospital in New York City. , or heart valve disease. A common disease, or carotid artery disease, is a disease of the arteries associated with certain types of strokes.
The results of the study, published in the BMJ Open Ophthalmology journal, could lead to increased screening to preserve vision, diagnose undiagnosed heart disease, and prevent adverse cardiovascular events.
Professor Theodore Smith of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York said: “For the first time, we have been able to link certain high-risk cardiovascular diseases to a certain type of age-related macular degeneration, the type that is drosinoid deposits under the retina.
Known as subretinal druzenoids (SDDs), these deposits are made up of fat that forms under the light-sensitive retinal cells at the back of the eye and is associated with vision loss. Their detection is difficult and requires high-tech image scanning.
Professor Smith explained that reduced blood flow to the eye is either due to damage to the heart, which reduces blood flow throughout the body, or due to blockage in the carotid artery, which prevents blood from flowing directly to the eye.
He added: “Poor blood supply can cause damage to any part of the body, and damage to the retina and remnants of SDD are among those injuries. Damage to the retina means loss of vision and can lead to blindness.”
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in people over 65 and is associated with damage to the central area of the retina called the macula, which is responsible for reading and driving.
One early form of age-related macular degeneration is small deposits of yellow cholesterol called drusen that form under a part of the retina called the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). The retina can be deprived of blood and oxygen, resulting in loss of vision. And the formation of drusen can be slowed down by appropriate vitamin supplements.
The other major form of early age-related macular degeneration, subretinal tuberous deposits (SDDs), is less well known and requires high-tech retinal imaging to detect it.
These deposits contain another form of cholesterol and form just below the light-sensitive cells in the retina where damage and loss of vision occurs. There is no known cure for SDD.
An analysis of 200 patients with age-related macular degeneration who had severe cardiovascular disease and stroke found that they were nine times more likely to develop these deposits.
Co-author Dr. Richard Rosen said: “This work demonstrates the fact that ophthalmologists can be the first clinicians to discover systemic disease, especially in asymptomatic patients. Detection of SDD deposits in the retina should lead to referral to the primary care physician. “Especially if the cardiologist has previously was not involved. It could prevent a life-threatening heart attack.”