To determine whether there is a difference in neuroretinal function and in macular pigment optical density between persons with high- and low-risk gene variants for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and no ophthalmoscopic signs of AMD, and to compare the results on neuroretinal function to patients with manifest early AMD.
Neuroretinal function was assessed with the multifocal electroretinogram for 32 participants (22 healthy persons with no AMD and 10 patients with early AMD). The 22 healthy participants with no AMD had either high- or low-risk genotypes for CFH (rs380390) and/or ARMS2 (rs10490924). Trough-to-peak response densities and peak-implicit times were analyzed in 5 concentric rings. Macular pigment optical density was assessed by use of customized heterochromatic flicker photometry.
Trough-to-peak response densities for concentric rings 1 to 3 were, on average, significantly greater in participants with high-risk genotypes than in participants with low-risk genotypes and in persons with early AMD after correction for age and smoking (P < .05). The group peak-implicit times for ring 1 were, on average, delayed in the patients with early AMD compared with the participants with high- or low-risk genotypes, although these differences were not significant. There was no significant correlation between genotypes and macular pigment optical density.
Increased neuroretinal activity in persons who carry high-risk AMD genotypes may be due to genetically determined subclinical inflammatory and/or histological changes in the retina. Neuroretinal function in healthy persons genetically susceptible to AMD may be a useful additional early biomarker (in combination with genetics) of AMD before there is a clinical manifestation.