Hypertension medications: The future preventatives of AMD?

doctor testing patientAntihypertensives, including angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and beta blockers, may have the additional benefit of lowering the risk of both forms of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a large retrospective study shows.

Dr. Partho Kalyani, a fellow in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Michigan, presented the results at this year’s ‘Research in vision and ophthalmology annual meeting’.

Through the assessment of a managed care network in the US, composed of hypertension suffers aged 55 and over who had each visited an eye care professional, Dr. Kalyani and his team were able to find a correlation between AMD risks and hypertension medication.

Furthermore, an analysis of International classification of diseases, 9th revision billing codes revealed that 6.8% of people with systemic arterial hypertension developed cases of wet or dry AMD. Treatment with any hypertension medication proved to significantly lower the risk of AMD at least 20% of the time.

Previous studies had been small but had suggested an association between the sight-threatening eye disease and hypertension conditions.

Upon review it was discovered that beta blockers were associated with a 10.4% reduction in the risk of dry AMD whilst ACE inhibitors were linked with a 4.3% reduction.

Dr. Kalyani theorised that “Some people are on multiple antihypertensives; that is even more beneficial, presumably because of better control.” However, he added that it might be because “people on multiple medications are at higher risk for age-related macular degeneration in the first place.”

Brian Vanderbeek, MD, from the Scheie Eye Institute at the University of Pennsylvania suggests that “the risk for age-related macular degeneration can be modified with treatment for hypertension. Beta blockers should be further explored as a preventative medicine for age-related macular degeneration.”

However, Dr. Kalyani acknowledged that AMD is a multifactorial condition and that by not recording the exposure to direct sunlight and tobacco use of the participants, among other potential factors, the study is potentially limited.

On the other hand these findings are still extremely beneficial as anything which may reduce the risk of AMD is helpful. Prevention, rather than using potentially painful intervention methods, is very important as it can save a person’s eyesight and reduce the strain placed on other medical services by the eye disease.

By using the MPS II macular pigment reader eye care professionals are able to take accurate readings within 90 seconds. This allows opticians to deliver the best advice to their patients and offer available medications, such as the AREDS formula, which may slow the advancement of the disease.

More information

Further details about Dr. Kalyani’s research can be found at Medscape News.

Find out more about the MPS II device.

[Picture Credit: NHS Local]

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