could be avoided by adhering to the findings of a new study which identifies ways in which age-related macular degeneration can be diagnosed and treated at an earlier stage.
Researchers from the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill School of Medicine joined forces with scientists at the University of Kentucky to identify the role of the CCR3 protein in the disease's progression.
By inhibiting the protein, irregular blood vessel growth, which is pivotal to the disease affecting 20 to 50 million people, ceases.
Study co-author and main investigator of the UNC study site Dr Mary Elizabeth Hartnett, who is also professor of ophthalmology in the UNC School of Medicine, commented: "It would be much better to prevent the disease in the first place...
"An exciting implication of this study was that the CCR3 protein could be detected in early abnormal blood vessel growth, giving us the opportunity to prevent structural damage to the retina and preserve vision."
Macular degenerations occurs with the advancement of age and results in the central, or macular field of vision becoming lost due to damage to the retina.