Research NewsHuman Genetics

Gene Found for the Fading Eyesight of Old Age

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Science  19 Sep 1997:
Vol. 277, Issue 5333, pp. 1765-1766
DOI: 10.1126/science.277.5333.1765

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For the first time, researchers have found a genetic cause for the late-developing form of macular degeneration, which is a major cause of blindness in elderly persons. On page 1805, researchers report that 16% of the macular degeneration patients they tested have mutations in the so-called ABCR gene, which had been linked previously to a rare condition called Stargardt disease, a type of macular degeneration that develops early. The hope now is that the discovery will lead to a better understanding of what causes the more gradual vision loss of old age, and perhaps to a diagnostic test that will allow ophthalmologists to identify people at high risk of developing the problem so that they can take preventive steps, such as avoiding smoking.