Last Updated: Feb 15, 2023

A team of experts from Canada has conducted a study that has given insights into the potential molecular cause of macular degeneration (AMD) related to aging. The findings of the study have been released in the well-known journal known as Science. The study has been conducted at Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont in Montreal. The study has shown how stressors of everyday life, like obesity, can change the immune system and lead to damage to the eye as people start aging. The lead author of the study and a professor from the University of Montreal ophthalmology Przemyslaw (Mike) Sapieha has said that the team of scientists has done this study to identify why some people dealing with a genetic predisposition are diagnosed with macular degeneration while others are unaffected from the disease. Sapieha has said that though scientists have invested considerable effort in understanding the genes that cause AMD, changes, and mutations in vulnerability genes only shoot the risk of the disease growth, they do not cause the disease. Macular degeneration (AMD) is a major factor in irreversible blindness across the world and the disease has impacted nearly 196 million people in 2020. The disease affects people in two forms which are dry AMD and wet AMD. Dry AMD is categorized by the buildup of fatty deposits at the back of the eye and the loss of nerve cells in the eye while wet AMD, which is categorized by unhealthy blood vessels that grow in the most delicate region of the sight-producing tissue, known as the macula.

The co-author of the study Dr. Masayuki Hata has said that the observations seen in the study suggest that healthcare providers must have a better understanding of how other aspects such as environment and lifestyle impact the development of the disease. Scientists who have been involved in the study have said that it has already been proven that the immune system in the eye of a patient who is suffering from AMD gets unmanageable and aggressive. Generally, immune cells are responsible for keeping the eye healthy, but when they come in contact with pathogens such as bacteria and viruses they can turn awry. At the same time, immune cells are also stimulated when the body is exposed to stress factors such as excess fat in obesity, which makes being overweight the leading non-genetic risk factor for causing AMD, after smoking. In the new study, Sapieha and Hata have utilized obesity as a model to fast-track and amplify the stress factors faced by the body throughout life. Scientists have found that temporary obesity or a history of obesity results in tenacious variations in the DNA construction within immune cells, which makes them more vulnerable to generating inflammatory molecules.

The authors of the study have said that the findings of the study offer significant evidence about the biology of the immune cells that are responsible for causing AMD and will help develop more personalized treatments in the future. The co-author of the study Dr. Masayuki Hata has said that the team of scientists hopes that their findings will help other experts to widen their interest beyond diseases that are linked to obesity to other diseases as well that are categorized by elevated levels of neuro-inflammation such as Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis. Dr. Hata is working as an ophthalmology professor at Kyoto University, in Japan.


Devoted my whole life to words - reading, writing and trying to be original on social media. Got certified in digital marketing - still not cool enough to be an influencer. Finished a master’s degree focused in Literature, Publishing, Mass Media. Hobbies include traveling, reading and hoping that yoga will be the thing to finally teach me some patience. Would like to take over the world at some point, but that’s an optional dream. Maybe modern tech can help me do that?