Research Projects
Association of Diabetes and Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Programme(s) to which this project applies:

☑ MPhil/PhD ☒ MRes[Med] ☑ URIS

AMD is the most common eye disorder in elderly. It accounts for 8.7% of all blindness worldwide. The prevalence is rising as the population ages. Owing to disease complexity, effective treatment options are limited. For early AMD, there is no specific therapy.

Supplements including vitamins C and E, lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc and copper (AREDS2 formulation) can delay the progression of non-neovascular AMD but cannot cure the disease. For neovascular AMD, anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) drugs and photodynamic therapy are widely used [12] but they only temporally control the abnormal blood vessels. Meanwhile, no effective therapy is available for geographic atrophy [13].

Several epidemiological studies have indicated the positive association of AMD with diabetes and diabetic retinopathy (DR). Diabetes is a world epidemic affecting approximately 463 million adults (20-79 years) in 2019; by 2045 this will rise to 700 million (IDF Diabetes Atlas 9th edition 2019). It is an endocrine disorder with serious consequences and has caused 4.2 million deaths (IDF Diabetes Atlas 9th edition 2019). An ophthalmic complication of diabetes is DR, another devastating principal but preventable blinding condition in the working-age populations.

The evidence from large epidemiological studies suggests that it may be possible for AMD and DR to share similar pathological processes. It is therefore crucial to undertake studies to elucidate the association of AMD and DR and the underlying mechanisms. It is also essential to test the hypothesis whether better glycaemic control and DR prevention in diabetic patients may reduce progression of AMD from dry non-neovascular AMD to advanced AMD such as neovascular AMD and geographic atrophy.

Professor ACY Lo, Department of Ophthalmology

Professor Amy Lo obtained her PhD from the Department of Neuroscience in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. One of the PI's research themes is neuroprotection in the eye using disease models such as transgenic and knockout mice, rats and rabbits as well as in vitro models using primary cells and cell lines. She is well trained in morphological, functional, cellular, and molecular analyses of the eye and brain. Professor Amy Lo has been using genetic and pharmacological manipulations to identify potential therapeutic targets for various ocular diseases. She has track record on age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, cerebral and retinal ischemia/reperfusion injury, oxygen-induced retinopathy, retinal degeneration, and intraocular drug delivery.

HKU Scholars Hub

For more information or to express interest for this project, please email the supervisor or the specified contact point in the project description.  Interested candidates are advised to enclose with your email:

  1. your CV,
  2. a brief description of your research interest and experience, and
  3. two reference letters (not required for HKUMed UG students seeking MRes[Med]/URIS projects).

Information on the research programme, funding support and admission documentations could be referenced online at the Research Postgraduate Admissions website. General admission enquiries should be directed to

HKUMed MBBS students interested in the Master of Research in Medicine (MRes[Med]) programme may visit the programme website for more information.  

HKUMed UG students interested in the Undergraduate Research Internship Scheme (URIS) may visit the scheme’s website for more information.