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UCSD Researchers Discover Gene Linked With the Leading Cause of Blindness in Older Adults

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Aired 4/19/09

 

Researchers at U-C-S-D have discovered a gene associated with the most common form of age-related blindness. The condition known as dry macular degeneration affects nine million Americans. KPBS Reporter Kenny Goldberg has more.

 

It's also called geographic atrophy.

 

The disease is caused by a deterioration of the central part of the retina. Treatment can slow it down, but there is no cure.

 

Researchers have found the condition is linked to the presence of a gene called T-L-R-3.

 

U-C-S-D ophthalmologist Kang Zhang  led the team that made the discovery.

 

Dr. Kang Zhang: The gene variant which predisposes you to dry forms, or geographic atrophy, is very, very frequent. It's actually happening in about 70 percent in the general population.

 

Dr. Zhang says people who have the gene variant won't necessarily develop the disease. He says there are other risk factors, including smoking.

 

Kenny Goldberg, KPBS News.

 

 

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