THURSDAY, Nov. 15, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Calcified nodules in retinal drusen are linked to disease progression in patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), according to a study published in the Nov. 7 issue of Science Translational Medicine.

Anna C.S. Tan, from the Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital in New York City, and colleagues used optical coherence tomography images to assess the composition of calcified nodules in the eyes of patients with AMD and drusen. In addition, the authors assessed linkages to disease progression.

The researchers found that heterogeneous internal reflectivity within drusen (HIRD) indicated an increased risk for developing advanced AMD within one year. Progression to AMD was associated with increasing degeneration of the retinal pigment epithelium overlying HIRD. In clinically imaged cadaveric human eye samples, morphological analysis revealed that HIRD was formed by multilobular nodules. Nodules were composed of hydroxyapatite and they differed from spherules and Bruch’s membrane plaques.

“These findings suggest that hydroxyapatite nodules may be indicators of progression to advanced AMD and that using multimodal clinical imaging to determine the composition of macular calcifications may help to direct therapeutic strategies and outcome measures in AMD,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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