Age-related Macular Degeneration

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Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the leading causes of adult blindness in the developed world.  AMD accounts for over half the cases of adult blindness and twenty percent of the cases of low vision (Congdon, 2004, Figure 1).  It already affects over 8 million Americans, and is expected to increase as the population ages (Friedman, 2004).  Therefore, understanding this widespread disease and finding new and effective treatments will be critical for managing the health of an elderly population.

AMD is the most prevalent form of photoreceptor degeneration, which is a set of diseases characterized by death of the photoreceptor cells as either a primary or secondary event (Wright, 2010).  As noted in a review by de Jong, the progression of AMD and the serious symptoms of the later stages of the disease appear to be linked to a disruption in the function of the RPE and Bruch’s membrane. The drusen deposits can promote a local inflammatory response, thereby leading to invasion of the retina by immune cells, like macrophages and dendritic cells. These inflammatory cells can release cytokines and angiogenic factors, which can go on to mediate chronic inflammation. This response can ultimately damage the cells of the RPE and Bruch’s membrane, thereby threatening the health of the photoreceptors (de Jong, 2006). In addition, oxidative stress of the RPE has also been implicated as an important factor in the development of AMD (Thurman, 2009). Finally, as a multifactorial, age related disease, AMD can be influenced by several environmental factors. Both smoking and excessive exposure to light can lead to inflammatory responses and the formation of reactive oxygen species, thereby leading to damage of the RPE (de Jong, 2006).


One Reply to “Age-related Macular Degeneration”

  1. I think that this intro is strong in giving me as a peer scientist the context for what I need to understand the disease. I like the mechanist outline of the disease of the second paragraph and the studies to support the data that I am being given (I would hyperlink the studies to the actual papers however). I think that the research you have shown here is pretty solid. I think that this intro needs to have some hyperlinks to the biochem primer in order for a non-scientist reader to be able to more fully comprehend what is going in in the disease. Some terms such as RPE and Bruch’s membrane can be more fully explained in the molecular basis page of the website, but a short blerp could give some needed context here. For example, I would hyperlink the words: photoreceptor, macrophages, dendritic cells, cytokines, angiogenic factors, oxidative stress and reactive oxygen species. I think that this page could be made much more accessible to the reader with the addition of these terms, and adding too many terms doesn’t hurt a reader that might already know what they are talking about.

    The only other comment I would make about the home page is the inclusion of some kind of basic treatment information. I feel that the home page should be an encompassing part of the entire website, so a mention to treatments with studies to back them up could potentially lead readers to your website and guide them into a way of thinking you would want more.

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