The elderly with macular degeneration can have severe covid-19 complications: Study

Macular degeneration is an age-related eye disorder and sadly it can cause severe complications in covid-19 patients.
old age covid
Another cause of concern for elderly amid covid-19 time. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Team Health Shots Updated: 13 Oct 2023, 17:06 pm IST
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Compromised vision and old-age goes hand in hand. And in people who are 60 and above macular degeneration, an eye disorder, can even lead to loss of vision. But today the problem of macular degeneration is not just being studied for eye health; rather it’s getting attention because a research paper claims covid-19 infected people with this eye disorder have to face severe complications.  

According to the study published in the journal Nature Medicine, people with age-related macular degeneration which is caused by overactive immune system are at greater risk of developing severe complications and dying from covid-19.

Complement, which is one of the immune system’s oldest branches may be influencing the severity of SARS-CoV-2 disease, said the researchers at Columbia University in the US.

Chances of clotting may also increase, says study
The study also suggests that existing drugs that inhibit the complement system could help treat patients with severe disease.

macular degenration
Don’t let poor eyesight reduce their quality of life. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

The researchers found evidence that clotting activity is linked to covid-19 severity and that mutations in certain complement and coagulation genes are associated with hospitalisation of coronavirus patients.

“Together these results provide important insights into the pathophysiology of covid-19 and paint a picture for the role of complement and coagulation pathways in determining clinical outcomes of patients infected with SARS-CoV-2,” said Sagi Shapira, who led the study with Nicholas Tatonetti, both professors at Columbia University.

According to the researchers, if complement and coagulation influence severity of covid-19, people with pre-existing hyperactive complement or coagulation disorders should be more susceptible to the virus.

That led researchers to look at covid-19 patients with macular degeneration, an eye disease caused by overactive complement, as well as common coagulation disorders like thrombosis and hemorrhage.

According to the research, age and sex of the patient also matters
Among 11,000 patients who came to Columbia University Irving Medical Center with suspected covid-19, the researchers found that over 25% of those with age-related macular degeneration died, compared to the average mortality rate of 8.5 per cent, and roughly 20% required intubation.

The greater mortality and intubation rates could not be explained by differences in the age or sex of the patients, the researchers said.

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Shapira said:

Complement is also more active in obesity and diabetes and may help explain, at least in part, why people with those conditions also have a greater mortality risk from covid.

People with a history of coagulation disorders also were at increased risk of dying from covid-19 infection, the researchers added. 

(With inputs from PTI)

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