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Cynthia Owsley, Thomas A. Swain, Gerald McGwin, Mark E. Clark, Deepayan Kar, Jason N. Crosson, Christine A. Curcio; How Vision Is Impaired From Aging to Early and Intermediate Age-Related Macular Degeneration: Insights From ALSTAR2 Baseline. Trans. Vis. Sci. Tech. 2022;11(7):17. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/tvst.11.7.17.
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We hypothesize the first visual dysfunction in transitioning to early and intermediate age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is delayed rod-mediated dark adaptation (RMDA), owing to impaired photoreceptor sustenance from the circulation. This analysis from the Alabama Study on Early Age-related Macular Degeneration 2 provides insight on our framework's validity, comparing RMDA and other visual tests among older normal, early, and intermediate AMD eyes.
AMD disease severity was determined via fundus photos using the Age-Related Eye Disease Study nine-step system. Visual functions evaluated were RMDA 5°, acuity, contrast sensitivity (photopic, mesopic), and light sensitivity for a macular grid (scotopic, mesopic, photopic). Presence versus absence of subretinal drusenoid deposits (SDD) was identified through multimodal imaging.
One eye from each of 481 persons (mean age, 72 years) was evaluated. All visual functions were significantly worse with increasing AMD disease severity. Using z-scores to standardize visual function measures across groups, the greatest difference in probability density functions between older normal and intermediate AMD was for RMDA. Early and intermediate AMD eyes with SDD present had longer rod intercept times than eyes with SDD absent. SDD absent eyes also exhibited delayed RMDA and wide probability density functions relative to normal eyes.
Among the visual functions evaluated, RMDA best discriminates among normal, early AMD, and intermediate AMD eyes. The Alabama Study on Early Age-related Macular Degeneration 2 will evaluate whether AMD's natural history confirms our hypothesis at the 3-year follow-up.
Results support a sequence of visual function impairments in aging and AMD, suggesting RMDA as a promising outcome for evaluating interventions in early disease.
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