Macular degeneration, often called AMD or ARMD (age-related macular degeneration), is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in Americans aged 60 and older. Because older people represent an increasingly larger percentage of the general population, vision loss from macular degeneration is a growing problem.
AMD occurs with degeneration of the macula, which is the part of the retina responsible for the sharp, central vision needed to read or drive. Because the macula primarily is affected in AMD, central vision loss may occur.
It is estimated that 1.75 million U.S. residents had advanced age-related macular degeneration with associated vision loss, with that number expected to grow to almost 3 million by 2020 and 18 million by 2050.
Treatment for Macular degeneration typically involved monthly injections that stop the vessels in the eye from growing. This treatment usually didn’t last very long. A new technique could save a person’s sight … along with their lifestyle. The revolutionary new treatment is being tested in clinical trials. Doctors use a small probe that delivers targeted low-dose radiation to the eye. The radiation will damage abnormal blood vessels without affecting the healthy parts of the eye. Then surgeons inject a dose of the traditional medication. They say the radiation-drug combo is more powerful, lasts longer and could eliminate the need for monthly injections.
Two retina specialists at Baptist Hospital in Nashville are very excited about this new radiation technique.
Dr. Peter Sonkin comments: “It’s a big impact on lifestyle for the patients. Patients use to have to come in once a month, sometimes for a year or two or longer.”
Dr. Carl Awh on the radiation: “The amount of radiation exposure to the body from going through this procedure is less than one would get flying from New York to Los Angeles in a plane.”
If the trial is successful in the U.S., the treatment could be available in less than two years.