Calcified nodules in the retina increase the risk for age-related macular degeneration, according to researchers at the University of Alabama.

The discovery may affect the diagnosis and prognosis of age-related macular degeneration, which affects many senior living residents.

“By fully understanding the causes behind the changing environment in which these large, damaging nodules grow, we could design new ways to intervene with their growth earlier in the disease process,” said Christine Curcio, Ph.D., a professor at the university’s ophthalmology and vision sciences department.

Full findings appear in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Currently, no treatment exists for most patients with the condition. AMD has been associated with depression and other health problems.