New Hope for Better Macular Degeneration Treatments

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay reporter

MONDAY, February 22, 2021 (HealthDay News) – A number of new treatments for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a progressive eye disease, are in development. AMD is one of the leading causes of vision loss in older people.

About 11 million Americans have AMD, which affects the part of the eye that allows you to see the finer details. There are two types: wet and dry. Wet AMD is treated with eye injections every month or two and dry AMD with antioxidant vitamins, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

“Although our current treatments have made a huge difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, the new treatments offer hope for patients whose AMD previously could not be treated,” said Dr. Sunir Garg, specialist. of the retina, clinical spokesperson for the academy.

“New treatments will also help patients receive beneficial treatment more easily than ever before,” he added in a press release from the academy.

Although treatment with antioxidant vitamins can help reduce vision loss in many patients with dry AMD, there is no treatment for people with advanced disease. But a number of promising clinical trials are underway.

These include investigations into two drugs targeting a part of the immune system long identified as a major factor in AMD.

The drugs, which are injected directly into the eye, have been shown to be safe in humans. According to the academy, results on significant improvement in vision are expected in about a year.

The replacement of vision cells that begin to die in the advanced stages of dry AMD is also being explored. While the treatment looks promising at first, there is still a long way to go before these stem cell therapies are ready for clinical use.

One of the major contributors to wet AMD is vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which causes weak, leaky blood vessels to form in the retina.

Anti-VEGF injections appeared about 15 years ago to treat the disease. While clinical trials show that such a treatment is over 90% effective against severe vision loss, the actual rate is closer to 50% because patients do not get injections as often as they need to. should, the academy said. Most patients require an injection every four to eight weeks.

Continued

A promising new method is a small, refillable drug reservoir that is surgically implanted in the eye, just below the eyelid. The device is filled with a concentrated version of an anti-VEGF drug and delivers it to the back of the eye over an extended period.

Instead of an injection every six to eight weeks, patients may receive a refill once or twice a year. Research shows that many people treated this way spend 15 months between treatments.

Gene therapies are also being explored to allow the eyes to make their own anti-VEGF drug, the academy noted.

More information

The National Eye Institute in the United States has more on age-related macular degeneration.

SOURCE: American Academy of Ophthalmology, press release, February 11, 2021

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