Your vision is something you depend on every day. It helps you drive to work or enjoy your favorite pastime. You use it so you can see your family and friends and enjoy the beauty of nature. What if your eyes no longer worked the way they were supposed to? What if everything you loved seeing was now a blur? Imagine how your life would change in an instant. As people age, the risk for developing a serious eye disease increases. At Margolis Vision, we now carry RetnaGene, a specialized laboratory-developed genetic test that assesses a patient’s risk of developing advanced AMD. If you were at risk of going blind, wouldn’t you want to know?
What is AMD?
AMD (Age Related Macular Degeneration) is a progressive common eye condition that affects many older adults. It is estimated that 10 to 15 million people in the US have AMD. It damages the tissue in the central part of the eye, called the macula. This can cause a blind spot in your central field of vision, which can worsen over time. There are two types of AMD, dry and wet. Dry AMD occurs when deposits called drusen appear and cells in the macula break down. It is the most common form of AMD and usually develops slowly over time. Dry AMD accounts for about 10% of vision loss. Wet AMD occurs when blood vessels grow below the retina, which is the part of the eye that acts like the film in a camera. Wet AMD is the more severe form of the disease and may cause sudden and permanent vision loss. Wet AMD accounts for about 90% of vision loss.
Until now, the only way to learn about your risk of developing advanced AMD was through an eye exam. Your doctor would look for the presence of drusen and other changes to the macula to determine the stage of your disease. Based on what the doctor observed, your risk would be established. This method accounts for 30% of your risk. The other 70% of the risk associated with advanced AMD is linked to the genes you inherit from your parents. An additional drawback to using this method is that it cannot be used to assess risk if you do not have signs of the disease. Genetic testing through RetnaGene provides the most complete picture of your AMD risk.
RetnaGene is a specialized laboratory-developed genetic test that assesses a patient’s risk of developing advanced AMD. The test examines your genetic makeup as well as other known risk factors to give you and your doctor an accurate picture, allowing the necessary subsequent steps to be taken. The RetnaGene AMD assesses the risk for wet AMD within 2, 5 and 10 years in patients aged 55 years or older with early or intermediate dry AMD. The RetnaGene LR test assesses the lifetime risk for advanced AMD (wet or dry) in patients aged 55 years or older and/or in patients with a family history of AMD.
How is the Test Performed?
The RetnaGene AMD test and the RetnaGene LR test require that a DNA specimen be collected from you for testing. This is done in the office with a quick and simple cheek swab. This will take approximately 60 seconds to complete. Once the specimen has been collected, it will be sent to a Laboratory for testing. Dr. Margolis then receives the results within 10 business days. At that time, he will call to discuss the results with the patient.
The test is not covered by insurance, but only needs to be done once. For more information on the RetnaGene test, please give us a call at 303-797-1150. We would be happy to assist you with any questions you may have.