Revolutionary Genetic Test Now Available For Age-Related Macular Degeneration

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ArcticDx Inc., a molecular diagnostic company with expertise in the design, development and commercialization of validated molecular diagnostic tests, has announced the availability of a test specifically designed to determine one’s inherited risk for Age-Related Macular Degeneration (“AMD”).

AMD is the leading cause of late onset visual impairment and legal blindness in the western world among people over the age of 50. Over 15 million people in North America are currently affected by AMD and experts estimate that, as the population ages, the number of those afflicted will double by the year 2020. AMD is a progressive disease associated with aging that causes damage to the macula – the light-sensitive cells at the center of the retina at the back of the eye. The macula is responsible for our ability to see with enough detail to read, drive, watch television and perform other activities that require focused, straight-ahead vision, as well as providing information that allows us to perceive colors. Once significant vision is lost, it cannot be restored and, if untreated, AMD will ultimately lead to blindness. 

Seventy-five to eighty percent of all AMD has been traced to genes inherited from family members. Until recently, there was no opportunity to determine who may carry these genes or be at risk. The test, Macula Risk®, changes that. It was developed by a leading geneticist, Dr. Brent Zanke, (Chairman and Chief Medical Officer of ArcticDx) in collaboration with an international group of independent research scientists. Analytical studies have shown this test to be 100% accurate in identifying the AMD genes.

Macula Risk® is now available as a CLIA-certified laboratory saliva test to anyone who is concerned about a family member or themselves. It is recommended that adults be tested once in their lifetime. Knowing the risk and accessing appropriate care may save the vision of countless individuals who otherwise would not have taken necessary action until it was too late. Individuals with a diagnosed drusen (early AMD) should check with their eye care professional to see if the test is right for them.

Dr. David Chow, a world-renowned retinal specialist practicing at St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, commented, “Macula Risk will identify patients at risk so they can be diligently monitored as their disease progresses. Early detection has the potential of significantly improving the final visual outcome of these patients who will develop advanced AMD. The efficacy of treatments like ranibizumab (trade name Lucentis) is greater for patients detected earlier with higher baseline visual acuity and smaller lesions.”

“Individuals with a family history of AMD may themselves have early signs of the disease and not yet know it,” commented Dr Zanke, “For those with early disease, Macula Risk® will tell them if they are likely to progress to vision loss so they can seek professional support from an eyecare professional.”

ArcticDx will introduce the test in Canada through the company’s exclusive Canadian distribution partner, Clarion Medical Technologies of Cambridge, Ontario.   The cost of the test is approximately $750. ArcticDx Inc. is a private Canadian company that is developing two molecular tests, Colo Risk™, for colorectal cancer and Macula Risk™ for age-related macular degeneration.

Written by Trevor Miranda

Dr. Miranda was raised in Simcoe, Ontario and graduated from the University of Waterloo with his Doctorate of Optometry in 1995. Following graduation, he moved to beautiful Vancouver Island, where he continues to serve the eye care needs of the Cowichan Valley. Trevor is also an active member of the Third World Eye Care Society and has participated with other professionals to improve the vision of the less fortunate. Dr. Miranda was named Optometrist of the Year by the British Columbia Association of Optometrists in March 2015. This prestigious honour recognized Dr. Miranda’s commitment to providing every patient with exceptional care while mentoring optometrists across Canada. Outside the office, you will find Trevor enjoying hockey, coaching soccer, involved with the South Cowichan Rotary Club, and spending time with his wife Cheryl and their three children. Trevor looks forward to continuing to care for the eyes of the Cowichan Valley and welcomes new patients without a referral. Dr. Miranda is available for appointments in our Duncan and Cobble Hill.
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