Detect, treat pre-symptomatic age-related macular degeneration

September 1, 2010

Decreased macular pigment density, one of the major contributing factors to the development of age-related macular degeneration, can be detected and treated at an early age, prior to the patient developing any signs or symptoms of the disease.

New York-Decreased macular pigment density (MPD), one of the major contributing factors to the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), can be detected and treated at an early age, prior to the patient developing any signs or symptoms of the disease, said David C. Eldridge, OD, FAAO. Dr. Eldridge, vice president of professional development at TearLab, San Diego, was speaking here at International Vision Expo East.

"Since optometrists are the primary eye-care providers, they're seeing patients who either have the disease in its most active and aggressive stage, wet AMD, or in the slower, less aggressive form of dry AMD," he added.

"The exciting thing about macular pigment testing is that you can identify patients who have a significant risk of developing either a more advanced stage of dry AMD or wet AMD by knowing if they have decreased pigment density in their maculas," he said.

"And if you can measure it, you can treat it," Dr. Eldridge emphasized.

He said there are several tests that can measure MPD. Some are subjective tests similar to a visual field test. "As long as the patient is able to understand the instructions and tell the operator when the endpoint of the test is, you can get very reliable findings from these tests," he said.

There are also objective tests available, such as autofluorescence analysis. In this test, the optometrist takes a picture of the retina using a special filter, and then grades the amount of macular pigment in the photograph.

Any of these tests are easily adaptable to flow in a practice, according to Dr. Eldridge.