COVID-19 Alert: Aged People With Macular Degeneration Face Greater Risk

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Here’s a red alert for aged people who are undergoing treatment for a specific eye problem.

According to a recent study, age-related macular degeneration — an eye disorder caused by overactive immune system — significantly enhances the risk of developing severe complications and dying from COVID-19.

Researchers at Columbia University in the US said that complement, one of the immune system’s oldest branches, may be influencing the severity of coronavirus disease, reported the Financial Express.

The study, published in the Nature Medicine journal, says that existing drugs that inhibit the complement system could help treat patients with severe coronavirus.

Evidence was also found that clotting activity is linked to COVID-19 severity. Also, mutations in certain complement and coagulation genes are associated with hospitalisation of COVID 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 lead researcher Sagi Shapira, a professor at Columbia University.

The researchers felt that if complement and coagulation influence severity of COVID-19, those with pre-existing hyperactive complement or coagulation disorders would be more susceptible to the virus.

That led them to look at coronavirus patients with macular degeneration, as well as common coagulation disorders like thrombosis and hemorrhage.

Of the 11,000 people who came to Columbia University Irving Medical Center with suspected COVID-19, over 25 per cent of those with age-related macular degeneration died, whereas the average mortality rate is 8.5 per cent. About 20 per cent of patients required intubation.

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