Heavy metals, toxic elements and oxidative stress may all play a role in the development of early- and late-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD), researchers from India suggest.

Their study, published in Experimental Eye Research, found significantly increased levels of lead, cadmium, chromium, nickel and arsenic in the choroid-retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and retinas of donor patients’ eyes with early and late AMD, in addition to decreased levels of oxidative stress and detoxification-related genes in these same areas of the eye.

While heavy metals and toxins have been linked to AMD previously, this study was unique in that it measured the concentration of the elements in the eye, researchers noted.

The study included 51 eyes with AMD and 39 eyes in the control group.

Researchers also found significantly higher levels of selenium in late AMD patients, but no significant difference in cobalt levels in the two groups.

“This study provides evidence that alterations of the heavy metals and toxic elements along with oxidative stress may play a role in the pathogenesis of early and late AMD,” the researchers wrote in their paper.

Aberami S, Nikhalashree S, Bharathselvi M, et al. Elemental concentrations in choroid-RPE and retina of human eyes with age-related macular degeneration. Exp Eye Res. July 1, 2019. [Epub ahead of print].