Breakthrough research suggests treatment for age related vision loss could be on the way

Jun 12, 2024
While the research offers hope for protecting eyesight into old age, taking proactive steps to safeguard your vision is crucial for maintaining independence and enhancing overall well-being. Source: Getty Images.

Recent research indicates that increasing a crucial protein in the back of the eye could protect the vision of older adults, potentially revolutionising the treatment of a leading cause of vision loss for those aged over 50.

Researchers from the University of Bristol looked at what role the protein IRAK-M played in age-related macular degeneration (AMD). IRAK-M is an important protein for protecting the cells that maintain a healthy retina.

Macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is a medical condition that can cause blurred or reduced central vision and is the leading cause of irreversible blindness and visual impairment in the world.

The team analysed whether increasing IRAK-M could protect retinal cells from degenerating in mice and if it could be used in therapies for macular degeneration in humans.

Andrew Dick, Professor of Ophthalmology from the University of Bristol said the findings were “exciting”.

“Our findings suggest that boosting a protein called IRAK-M could be a potential treatment strategy for AMD and could offer an exciting new therapeutic target for this common condition for which effective therapies remain elusive,” Professor Dick said.

Fellow researcher and Cirrus Therapeutics CEO, Dr Ying Kai Chan, said the discovery would build and improve upon current treatments for AMD.

“Our novel approach not only addresses the multiple pathways involved in treating AMD but also offers the most compelling and evidence-based strategy available today,” Chan said.

While the research offers hope for protecting eyesight into old age, taking proactive steps to safeguard your vision is crucial for maintaining independence and enhancing overall well-being.

Optometrist David Shanahan explains that “vision is a precious gift, and with the right care, we should be able to enjoy good eye health throughout our lives.”

With that in mind, Starts at 60 picked Shanahan’s brain further for the key tips and advice you can employ in your day-to-day life to protect and maintain optimal vision.

Regular Eye Exams: Schedule comprehensive eye exams with an optometrist at least once a year. These exams can detect age-related eye conditions like cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) early when they are most treatable.

Healthy Diet: Maintain a balanced diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Foods like leafy greens, fish, and colourful fruits can help protect your eyes from age-related conditions.

Manage Chronic Conditions: Conditions like diabetes and hypertension can affect your vision. Keep these conditions well-managed through medication, lifestyle changes, and regular check-ups.

Quit Smoking: Smoking is a significant risk factor for AMD and cataracts. Quitting smoking can lower your risk of these conditions and improve overall eye health.

Stay Active: Regular physical activity improves blood circulation, which is essential for eye health. It can also help manage conditions like diabetes that affect vision.

Computer Use: If you spend extended periods in front of a computer screen, take regular breaks to reduce eye strain. Adjust the screen’s brightness and position to minimise glare.

Hydration: Stay well-hydrated. Dehydration can lead to dry eye syndrome, which is more common and more detrimental to eye health in older adults.

Medication Review: Some medications can affect your vision. Consult with your healthcare provider and optometrist to understand any potential side effects and discuss alternatives if necessary.

Proper Lighting: Ensure your home and workplace are well-lit, especially in areas where you read, cook, look at screens or engage in close-up activities. Proper lighting reduces eye strain.

Limit Alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to eye conditions like cataracts. Moderation is key.

Follow Prescriptions: If you have glasses or contact lenses, wear them as prescribed by your optometrist. An up-to-date prescription ensures you’re seeing as clearly as possible. If you are experiencing headaches or eye strain it may be time to update your prescription.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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