The role of VEGF in macular degeneration seems to be a balancing act.
Lack Of VEGF Can Cause Defects Similar To Dry Macular Degeneration
ScienceDaily (Nov. 13, 2009) — Scientists at Schepens Eye Research Institute have found that when the eye is missing a diffusible form of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), i.e. one that when secreted can reach other cells at a distance, the retina shows defects similar to “dry” macular degeneration, also called geographic atrophy (GA).
VEGF is a protein that stimulates the growth of new blood vessels. The eye produces several different forms of VEGF that differ in their size and their ability to move away from the producing cell.
In wet AMD, a pathological overproduction of VEGF leads to the development of abnormal blood vessels, which leak and damage the retina. Wet AMD can be treated with some success with anti-VEGF drugs that block abnormal blood vessel growth and leakage. Dry macular degeneration develops less rapidly, and is related to an accumulation of debris under the retina that can advance to GA where RPE and underlying vessels are lost.