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The ageing eye - Lifestyle vs Genes

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Ageing is a universal phenomenon yet how it affects an individual is dependent on a multitude of factors including complex gene-environment interactions. This talk will summarize a group of visual function tests used to distinguish normal ageing from the early stages of Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a potentially devastating disease which destroys central vision. The talk will also outline a pilot study in which these tests were carried out in a group of older twins. The aim of which was to assess the relative genetic contribution to various aspects of visual function using a classical twin study. The results showed that the performance of visual processes mediated by cones was determined mainly by a genetic predisposition. However, processes underlying dark adaptation were less dependent on genetic predisposition with environmental factors influencing performance to a greater degree. Finally, I will show how these findings have implications for our understanding of the pathogenic mechanisms underlying macular disease.

This talk is part of the Craik Club series.

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