New AMD treatments in sight

Macular degeneration involves deterioration or damage to the macula, a small spot near the center of the retina that is responsible for providing sharp central vision. Without a healthy macula, it becomes increasingly difficult to read, sew, drive or handle most routine daily activities.

Even as the condition worsens, the patient may notice few symptoms until a crisis point occurs. As an effect of AMD, it’s possible for an eye with 20/20 vision to become legally blind within six months.

everal new treatments are in late-stage clinical trials, and a device to allow early detection has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The AdaptDX Dark Adaptometer is based on the observation that night vision problems are among the first to be noticed by AMD patients. One reason is that drusen (tiny yellow deposits in your eyes) can block the passage of vitamin A from blood vessels to the retina. Vitamin A is crucial for both night vision and adaptation from light to dark.

The Adaptometer is a large box with a darkened tunnel through which the patient looks. Tests with this box can identify the presence and seriousness of drusen and other retinal changes.

When drusen are detected at an early stage, lifestyle changes may be all that’s needed — weight loss, smoking cessation and antioxidant vitamins such as Occuvite. When the need for more aggressive treatment arrives, timely action is possible with the help of the Dark Adaptometer.

Animal studies are indicating that it may soon be possible to deliver significant concentrations of anti-VEGF drugs to the retina through eye drops. Other animal studies have focused on MDM2 inhibitors that target the leaking blood vessels themselves rather than the growth factor. The result is a more direct and lasting effect.

Even more promising final stage research is focusing on low-dose radiation as a means of controlling the fast-growing blood vessels.

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