Genotype- and Phenotype-Based Subgroups in Geographic Atrophy Secondary to Age-Related Macular Degeneration: The EYE-RISK Consortium

Ophthalmol Retina. 2020 Dec;4(12):1129-1137. doi: 10.1016/j.oret.2020.04.014. Epub 2020 May 1.


Purpose: Geographic atrophy (GA) secondary to age-related macular degeneration is considered a single entity. This study aimed to determine whether GA subgroups exist that can be defined by their genotype and phenotype.

Design: Retrospective analysis of cross-sectional data.

Participants: Individuals (196 eyes of 196 patients) 50 years of age or older with GA from the EYE-RISK database.

Methods: Participants were graded for the presence of each of the following fundus features on color fundus photography: large soft drusen, reticular pseudodrusen (RPD), refractile drusen, hyperpigmentation, location of atrophy (foveal vs. extrafoveal), and multifocal lesions. Genotypes of 33 single nucleotide polymorphisms previously assigned to the complement, lipid metabolism, or extracellular matrix (ECM) pathways and ARMS2 also were included, and genetic risk scores (GRSs) for each of those 3 pathways were calculated. Hierarchical cluster analysis was used to determine subgroups of participants defined by these features. The discriminative ability of genotype, phenotype, or both for each subgroup was determined with 10-fold cross-validated areas under the receiver operating characteristic curve (cvAUCs), and the agreement between predicted and actual subgroup membership was assessed with calibration plots.

Main outcome measures: Identification and characterization of GA subgroups based on their phenotype and genotype.

Results: Cluster analyses identified 3 subgroups of GA. Subgroup 1 was characterized by high complement GRS, frequently associated with large soft drusen and foveal atrophy; subgroup 2 generally showed low GRS, foveal atrophy, and few drusen (any type); and subgroup 3 showed a high ARMS2 and ECM GRS, RPD, and extrafoveal atrophy. A high discriminative ability existed between subgroups for the genotype (cvAUC, ≥0.94), and a modest discriminative ability existed for the phenotype (cvAUC, <0.65), with good calibration.

Conclusions: We identified 3 GA subgroups that differed mostly by their genotype. Atrophy location and drusen type were the most relevant phenotypic features.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Eye Proteins / genetics*
  • Eye Proteins / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fluorescein Angiography / methods*
  • Fovea Centralis / pathology*
  • Fundus Oculi
  • Genotype
  • Geographic Atrophy / diagnosis
  • Geographic Atrophy / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Macular Degeneration / diagnosis
  • Macular Degeneration / genetics*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phenotype
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide*
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Eye Proteins