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Soon, test to detect risk of blindness before any signs develop

June 9, 2011 - Melbourne

Researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are working on a test that they hope will help detect people at risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) - the country's leading cause of blindness.

AMD is a progressive disease that could be significantly minimized with lifestyle changes, so early detection is crucial, explained eye specialist Beatrix Feigl.

One in seven Australians over 50 years old is affected by AMD and about half are genetic carriers of the disease.

There is currently no way of determining if people are at risk of going blind from AMD.

But Dr Feigl has spent two years conducting sensitive vision tests on 50 people with a genetic predisposition to AMD who are currently showing no clinical signs of the condition, reports

She noticed small visual impairments in some of the patients, indicating it may be possible to spot early signs of the modifiable disease.

"It's a significant finding in so far as... there is no test available and usually doctors perform clinical tests when there are signs," Dr Feigl said.


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