Lipofuscin as a cause of macular degeneration (AMD – age-related macular degeneration)
Lipofuscin is a waste product of the body. It consists of oxidized protein and lipid clusters. It appears on aging skin in the form of brownish spots (age spots). That is why lipofuscin is also called age pigment.
Belonging to the so-called slags, this substance can no longer be utilized by the body. The cause is oxidative stress, an otherwise quite normal process of metabolism in increasing age. While a healthy lifestyle can reduce the formation of lipofuscin, smoking has a negative effect.
Lipofuscin and its effect on vision
Lipofuscin accumulates mainly in the heart muscle, nerve cells and retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) of the eye. The cumulative accumulation of the pigment gradually leads to the death of the photoreceptor cells. Since the light-sensitive photoreceptors are also affected in this process, there is a loss of vision. In the final stage, affected individuals perceive only a “blind spot” in the visual field.
Lipofuscin and AMD (age-related macular degeneration)
Primarily, the macula (retina of the eye with the site of sharpest vision) is affected by this accumulation of pigments. Characteristic is an undersupply of oxygen, nutrients and important vitamins with a simultaneous reduction in the breakdown of waste products. The death of spent photoreceptors in turn produces new lipofuscin – a vicious circle develops.
Over time, further deposits (glands) can cause age-related macular degeneration (AMD). It first occurs as dry AMD, but can change to the wet form as it progresses. Swelling and formation of edema are the result. In this stage, the visual performance decreases rapidly – there is a risk of age-related blindness.
Lipofuscin and dry form of AMD (age-related macular degeneration)
Dry AMD is the most common form with a share of about 80%. It progresses very slowly but inexorably. Causes are circulatory disturbances of the choroid and the accumulation of lipofuscin. Orthodox medicine does not yet know a therapy against lipofuscin. Fortunately, dry AMD leads to complete blindness in only a few cases.
Lipofuscin and wet form of AMD (age-related macular degeneration)
Much more dangerous is wet AMD. Here pathological vascular membranes form under the retina. Bleeding and excretion of fluids occur (therefore wet macular degeneration). Incident light rays cannot penetrate this substance. The consequence is that the photoreceptors no longer receive light stimuli. In orthodox medicine, however, a drug was developed with which lipofuscin could be removed from the cells in humans and monkeys.
Since conventional medical treatment of AMD is still in its infancy, it is therefore important to focus on early detection and prevention of this insidious disease.