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Cholesterol testing may predict macular degeneration risk

Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol

A cholesterol test may not only predict an individual's risk of heart disease, it may also identify patients who are at risk for macular degeneration. A new study has found that patients with low levels of HDL, or "good cholesterol," are more likely to develop the vision impairment.

The findings could enable doctors to determine at a younger age which patients are most likely to develop macular degeneration, and help them create more effective, personalized treatment plans.

The study found that 2.4 percent of participants between the ages of 21 and 34 showed early signs of the disease. However, the team found that those with high levels of HDL cholesterol were less likely to show these signs.

Ronald Klein, who led the investigation, said that macular degeneration is largely thought of as a condition that effects the elderly, but many younger people could reduce their chances of developing it if they understood the risk factors.

"Accurate estimates of prevalence of macular degeneration among adults younger than 40 years are lacking," he said. "Such information is important for understanding the relationships of risk factors to [the condition] across the age spectrum and for identifying factors that might affect this disease earlier in life."

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