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Research into Age-related Macular Degeneration

Johanna Seddon

Johanna Seddon, MD, ScM, Director of Retina, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science & Director of the Macular Degeneration Center of Excellence, University of Massachusetts Medical School 

Dr. Seddon pioneered the field of epidemiology in ophthalmology, initiated studies of genes associated with macular degeneration, and is widely recognized for her groundbreaking research on lifestyle factors (smoking, body mass index, abdominal adiposity, exercise), nutrition (dietary lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids) and the associations of these modifiable factors with macular degeneration. Dr. Seddon has NIH funding and has published over 250 articles in peer-reviewed journals, chapters and reviews. Her discoveries have changed the management of macular degeneration. She also co-authored the AMDF cookbook “Eat Right for Your Sight,” based on scientific studies of the impact of nutrition on eye disease.  

Full biography (click here)

With her AMDF Breakthrough Award Extension, Dr. Seddon is developing further information critical to our fundamental understanding of Macular Degeneration and to the potential discovery of future treatment approaches: identifying what gene-connected factors are protective; identifying what gene-connected factors are predictive of developing the disease; and finding genetic subgroups that are more likely to benefit from behavioral, lifestyle modifications or who respond better to treatment.  These investigations are based on analysis of her unique biorepository and genotype/DNA sequence database of over 10,000 individuals, the largest of any single center in the U.S.  

Dr. Seddon reports: “We have untapped existing data and resources requiring hands-on data management and analyses which will be greatly facilitated by the funds received from AMDF. This research will lead to new results about associations between genotypes and clinical signs based on ocular exams and imaging that we have obtained over several years.  Funds are being used to support the following aims: 

  1. Merge our existing datasets and analyze available data to provide further support for mechanisms of known genetic variants. 
  2. Identify individuals and families who have low genetic burden with low genetic scores based on our biorepository and database to identify protective factors. 
  3. Identify subjects who have genes that make them a high risk for AMD but don’t develop the condition or do not progress.  What are the predictive factors? 

Since this is human genetic research, results are directly applicable to patients with macular degenerations and could lead to new targets for treatments, as in previous research in the Seddon Lab.” 


Seddon JM. Macular Degeneration Epidemiology: Nature-Nurture, Lifestyle Factors, Genetic Risk, and Gene-Environment Interactions – The Weisenfeld Award Lecture. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2017;58(14):6513-6528

Seddon JM, Rosner B. Validated Prediction Models for Macular Degeneration Progression and Predictors of Visual Acuity Loss Identify High-Risk Individuals. Am J Ophthalmol. 2019;198:223-261.

Adherence to a Mediterranean diet, genetic susceptibility, and progression to advanced macular degeneration: a prospective cohort study

Genetic Susceptibility, Diet Quality, and Two-Step Progression in Drusen Size

Click here for a complete listing of Dr. Seddon’s AMDF-supported publications.