Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of blindness in Western countries. Advanced AMD consists of geographic atrophy (GA) and neovascular AMD (nAMD). Treatment is currently only available for nAMD and comes in the form of intravitreal injections of anti–vascular endothelial growth factor. This treatment is invasive, expensive, of limited effectiveness, and poses a considerable burden on patients. Therefore, increased public health efforts need to be directed toward prevention of advanced AMD. Identifying causal, modifiable risk factors for advanced AMD is critical to implementing interventions for prevention.
Mendelian randomization (MR) is a technique that has been used to assess potential causal associations across a wide range of diseases. MR is based on the principle that if a genetic variant causes a change in an exposure (eg, smoking or alcohol intake), and if this exposure is causal for a disease (eg, advanced AMD), then the genetic variant should also be associated with risk of the disease. Valerie Kuan and team used MR to assess the potential causal role of other exposures that are amenable to intervention (ie, smoking, alcohol intake, bodymass index [BMI], blood pressure, and glycemic traits) on the risk of advanced AMD and its subtypes, GA and nAMD, using publicly available data.
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