Unlocking the link between Age-Related Macular Degeneration and metabolomics


New Orleans, La. — Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an ocular disease in which a part of the retina, the macula, is damaged. The macula is the area of the retina that controls central vision. AMD is the leading cause of vision loss for older people. There are two types of late AMD, wet and dry. Although the wet form of late AMD has been treated since 2006 with anti-vascular endothelial growth factor drug, there is recently FDA approved treatment for late dry AMD, and nutritional supplements are recommended for those with early or intermediate AMD. In addition to regular eye exams, patients are advised to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Although there is much research that shows a connection between metabolomics and AMD, metabolic changes sustained by AMD are not fully understood, yet they might provide crucial insights into the disease’s origin and progression. A study presented this week at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology’s (ARVO) Annual Meeting examined how AMD patients’ metabolites, materials created or used when the body digests food, medications, and chemicals, may vary with different levels of AMD severity.

Claire Weber, MS, along with scientists from the National Eye Institute (NEI) and National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, devised a trial study of Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) participant serum metabolites. They collected serum samples from 400 participants and measured 1464 metabolites that included sugars, nucleotides, lipids, and amino acids at the start of the study and then five years later. At the start of the study, they discovered 32 metabolites associated with higher risk of late AMD and 17 associated with lower risk, although the findings did not achieve statistical significance past false discovery rate. At the five-year time point, they observed 33 and 25 metabolites associated with higher and lower risk of late AMD, respectively, although the findings did not achieve statistical significance.

Weber explained that the “pilot metabolomics study of AREDS participants serum found that certain short chain fatty acids, amino acids, and related metabolic pathways were associated with late age-related macular degeneration. Enriched pathways included the transport of bile salts, nicotinate, and cellular response to stress, findings which, if confirmed in future analyses, may help us better understand the mechanism of disease.”

  • Abstract title: Metabolomics of age-related macular degeneration points to lipid dysregulation and inflammation: an AREDS pilot study
  • Presentation start/end time: Tuesday, April 25, 3:30 – 3:45pm CT
  • Location: R06
  • Presentation number: 3265


The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) is the largest eye and vision research organization in the world. Members include approximately 10,000 eye and vision researchers from over 75 countries. ARVO advances research worldwide into understanding the visual system and preventing, treating and curing its disorders. Learn more at

Media contact:
Jenniffer Scherhaufer