Risk factors and biomarkers of age-related macular degeneration

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A biomarker can be a substance or structure measured in body parts, fluids or products that can affect or predict disease incidence. As age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in the developed world, much research and effort has been invested in the identification of different biomarkers to predict disease incidence, identify at risk individuals, elucidate causative pathophysiological etiologies, guide screening, monitoring and treatment parameters, and predict disease outcomes. To date, a host of genetic, environmental, proteomic, and cellular targets have been identified as both risk factors and potential biomarkers for AMD. Despite this, their use has been confined to research settings and has not yet crossed into the clinical arena. A greater understanding of these factors and their use as potential biomarkers for AMD can guide future research and clinical practice. This article will discuss known risk factors and novel, potential biomarkers of AMD in addition to their application in both academic and clinical settings.HighlightsBiomarkers are used to predict incidence, elucidate disease pathophysiology, and guide screening, monitoring and treatment.The process of biomarker development has been outlined, from biomarker identification to clinical implementation.sFlt-1 is a novel, and perhaps the most clinically significant, serum biomarker to identify patients at risk for wet AMD.The progress of each potential AMD biomarker and risk factor on its pathway to clinical use is summarized.

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