Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) leads to irreversible visual loss, therefore, early intervention is desirable, but due to its multifactorial nature, diagnosis of early disease might be challenging. Identification of early markers for disease development and progression is key for disease diagnosis. Suitable biomarkers can potentially provide opportunities for clinical intervention at a stage of the disease when irreversible changes are yet to take place. One of the most metabolically active tissues in the human body is the retina, making the use of hypothesis-free techniques, like metabolomics, to measure molecular changes in AMD appealing. Indeed, there is increasing evidence that metabolic dysfunction has an important role in the development and progression of AMD. Therefore, metabolomics appears to be an appropriate platform to investigate disease-associated biomarkers. In this review, we explored what is known about metabolic changes in the retina, in conjunction with the emerging literature in AMD metabolomics research. Methods for metabolic biomarker identification in the eye have also been discussed, including the use of tears, vitreous, and aqueous humor, as well as imaging methods, like fluorescence lifetime imaging, that could be translated into a clinical diagnostic tool with molecular level resolution.
Keywords: Age-related macular degeneration; biomarkers; drusen; metabolism; metabolomics; retinal pigment epithelium.