Macular degeneration is the number one cause of blindness for adults over the age of 65. Genetic testing is one vital new tool for evaluating age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, risk in AMD people with a first -degree relative who has AMD. Macula Risk is a new test which can identify these patients. This test involves a swab of the cheek to gather a patient’s DNA. By testing a small number of cells from the cheek, we can identify genes that increase a patient’s risk for AMD vision loss. Most patients will want to have this test done.
Medicare and most insurance policies will provide full coverage for these tests. We should perform these tests to have a better understanding of our patient’s risks, but the patient must have an AMD- related medical diagnosis such as drusen or pigment mottling. A family history is not sufficient for full coverage.
Macula Risk scores each patient on a 1-5 scale. Patients in the 1-2 risk categories- about 80% of the population- have a risk of developing vision loss. For those with a score of 3-5, the high risk indicates a need for more frequent monitoring of ocular changes. Patient with a score of 5 may need to be seen five times a year.