Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the primary cause of blindness in the elderly. Damage to the retina — the light-sensing tissue at the back of the eye — causes the disorder, and the risk of having it rises rapidly after middle age. According to one estimate, AMD affects nearly 1 in every 12 people between the ages of 45 and 85 worldwide.
Ophthalmologists have been treating wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) with monthly or bi-monthly eye injections and dry AMD with antioxidant vitamins for over a decade. When these medicines were launched initially, they offered hope for the first time that this sight-threatening condition may be delayed, stopped, or even reversed.
Patients can book an online appointment with expert ophthalmologists by searching ‘best ophthalmologist near me’ online.
New treatments for wet AMD
When new, aberrant blood vessels sprout behind the retina, wet AMD develops. These arteries may leak blood or other fluids, resulting in macula scarring. Wet AMD causes visual loss more quickly than dry AMD.
Scientists developed medications that interfere with this process by inhibiting a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor about 15 years ago (VEGF). Before anti-VEGF medications were launched, people with wet AMD were practically likely to experience significant vision loss or blindness.
While clinical trials suggest that anti-VEGF injections help more than 90% of patients preserve their vision, the figure is closer to 50% in the real world. This is because people are not getting treated as frequently as they should be. The issue is that most people require an injection every four to eight weeks to maintain their vision. This can be a demanding schedule for many older patients suffering from various illnesses and depend on others to get them to their ophthalmology appointments.
Gene therapy for wet AMD
Gene therapy is a viable alternative to medications like Eyelea, Lucentis, and Avastin, injected into the eyes regularly. This therapy aims to provide a “one-and-done” treatment by assisting the eye in producing anti-VEGF medication. The gene therapy is being tested in two ways: one injects it beneath the retina in a surgical procedure. The other injects it into the eye like a regular anti-VEGF treatment in the doctor’s office.
Patients can contact nearby ophthalmologists for further information on gene therapy by searching for the ‘best ophthalmologist near me’ online.
New treatments for dry AMD
The dry form of AMD affects approximately 8 out of 10 patients with the disease. When sections of the macula shrink with age, tiny clumps of a protein called drusen form. This is known as dry AMD, which makes patients gradually lose their core vision. Dry AMD is classified as early, moderate, or late-stage according to its severity.
A mixture of antioxidant vitamins known as the AREDS2 formula can help persons with intermediate disease lower their risk of vision loss. However, no treatment is available for late-stage AMD, commonly known as geographic atrophy (GA). However, some promising clinical trials are currently underway.
The “complement cascade,” a component of the immune system, has long been suspected of being a factor in AMD. So, two new medications that target the complement cascade and prevent it from assaulting the retina are nearing the end of their clinical trials. One of the treatment candidates (pegcetacoplan, APL-2) targets the complement protein C3. The other (Zimura, avacincaptad pegol) targets a different protein in the cascade, C5. These medications are injected directly into the patient’s eye, just like the current treatments for wet AMD.
For more details on dry and wet AMD, patients can book an appointment with award-winning ophthalmologists from the Seekmed mobile application. Patients can also book an appointment by searching ‘best ophthalmologist near me’ online.