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While it has been known for years that iron overload is associated with retinal degeneration in the context of ocular siderosis, intraocular hemorrhage, and the hereditary diseases aceruloplasminemia and pantothenate kinase associated neurodegeneration, recent evidence suggests that age-related macular degeneration (AMD) may also be exacerbated by retinal iron overload. In the retina, iron is necessary for normal cellular function. Iron overload, however, can cause retinal toxicity through the generation of oxygen free radicals. Histopathology of eyes with macular degeneration has shown elevated levels of iron in the retinal pigment epithelium, Bruch membrane, and within drusen, some of which was chelatable in vitro with deferoxamine. In this review, the authors summarize the evidence that iron overload may contribute to AMD pathogenesis. It is hoped that continued investigation of the role of iron and iron associated proteins in the retina will uncover clues to AMD pathogenesis and lead to new preventative or therapeutic options.

(C) The Ophthalmic Communications Society, Inc.