Macular degeneration (AMD) is a progressive eye disease that leads to vision loss, mainly amongst the elderly. According to research, 11 million Americans suffer from AMD. This condition affects the part of your eye that is responsible to see fine details.
Types of Macular Degeneration (AMD)
There are two types of AMD, and these are
This type of AMD refers to a chronic eye condition causing blind spots or blurred vision in your field of sight. You may develop this condition due to abnormal blood vessels leaking flood or fluids into your macula. The macula is present in the part of your retina that is responsible for controlling central vision.
An eye disorder common amongst people over the age of 50, Dry AMD can reduce your central vision or cause blurred vision. Thinning of your macula is the major cause of dry AMD.
Latest Treatments and Development for Age-related Wet AMD
Current treatments are already helping hundreds of thousands of people around the world to treat AMD. Promisingly enough, new treatments are underway to cure AMD in all ages.
The latest treatment uses antioxidant vitamins to reduce vision loss in most dry AMD patients. However, the last stage of this disease is incurable as of now. That said, there are numerous clinical trials taking place with promising results.
Scientists believe that vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is the major contributor to cause web AMD. VEGF causes the weak formation of blood vessels in your eyes that leads to leakage in your retina.
Therefore, they created anti-VEGF injections around 15 years ago. Although clinical trials demonstrated 90 percent effectiveness of anti-VEGF to treat severe vision loss due to AMD, the real-world application’s effectiveness stands at 50 percent.
This is mainly because patients cannot or do not get these injections as frequently as they should. Typically, a patient requires an injection every 4 to 8 weeks.
Drug Reservoir in the Eye
This is an innovative treatment for age-related macular degeneration. Doctors surgically implant a tiny refillable drug reservoir known as Port Delivery System (PDS) in your eye right under your eyelid. This device contains a concentrated dose of an anti-VEGF drug.
This reservoir can deliver the drug to the back of your eye for an extended period of time. While you require an injection every 4 to 8 weeks, this reservoir needs refilling once or twice a year.
If you are worried about getting an eye injection, then gene therapy is an effective alternative to treat wet AMD. The goal of this treatment is a one-time treatment to help your eye produce its own anti- VEGF medicine.
There are two ways in development for this treatment. The first one involves a surgical procedure to inject the gene therapy right underneath your retina. The second one is injecting gene therapy into your eye, similar to anti-VEGF treatment with a drug reservoir.
Anti-VEGF Drugs to Treat Wet AMD
Faricimab, Cosopt, and Opthea Opt-302 are two major candidates with promising results in treating wet AMD. Here is how they are helping.
This anti-VEGF drug targets VEGF as well as a protein named angiopoietin-2. The procedure to deliver this drug is the standard anti-VEGF treatment, i.e., injection into the eye.
Cosopt (dorzolamide-timolol) are the eye drops used for glaucoma treatment. The experts are testing these eye drops to see if these drops used along with anti-VEGF injections might help treat AMD.
This drug targets angiopoietin, a protein that causes wet AMD amongst the elderly. Combing anti-VEGF injection with Opthea might work better with long-lasting effects compared to a simple anti-VEGF injection.
Long-Lasting Anti-VEGF Injectable Drugs
Anti-VEGF treatments that do not require an injection into your eye are under development phase. Novartis introduced a new approved drug Beovu in the US, and one in three patients using this drug can go up to 3 months without taking an anti-VEGF injection.
Allergen is developing Abicipar is in phase 3 of clinical trials. While the drug is not FDA approved, its clinical trials show promising results with patients going without an injection for a minimum of three months.
Graybug Vision’s Sunitinib is another Injectable drug that might allow AMD patients to go without anti- VEGF injections for up to 6 months. This drug is also in phase 2B of clinical trials. That said, it will be another 2 to 5 years before this drug is available for AMD patients.
Latest Treatments and Developments for Age-related Dry AMD
Dry AMD is an eye condition that occurs when parts of the macula in your eye become thinner as you age, and drusen, tiny clumps of proteins grow in your eye. This causes you to slowly lose your central vision. About 8 in 10 people suffering from macular degeneration have dry AMD.
People suffering from an intermediate phase of dry AMD use the AREDS2 formula containing antioxidant vitamins. This helps reduce the risk of losing vision, but there is no treatment for the final stage of dry AMD. However, several clinical trials are underway.
Treatment by Targeting Your Immune System
There are two new drugs APL-2 and Zimura, that helps prevent or slow down dry AMD development.
This is also known as Pegcetacoplan that targets C3 protein that causes dry AMD.
Alternatively known as Avacincaptad, Pegol targets C5 protein to prevent dry AMD
Both of these drugs require the doctors to inject directly into your eye. While both drugs have shown promising results in dry AMD patients. Experts are now looking into the possibility of these drugs can improve the vision in AMD patients.
Replacing Vision Cells
Scientists and researchers are investigating another concept involving the groundbreaking approach to replace some cells dying in the last state of dry AMD. This stem cell treatment may help replace the damaged retina cells to prevent vision loss. Doctors are devising new ways to transplant stem cells directly into the eye.
One approach involves delivering a layer of stem cells on a thin scaffold. Another one is to put stem cells into liquid suspension and inject them right under your retina. However, these treatments are under development and may take 10 to 15 years before they can be available as treatment.
While treatments are aiding to prevent loss of vision due to AMD and innovations are in the pipeline, technology is playing its part in providing quality of life to AMD patients.
Vision Buddy is one of the leading latest innovations that can help people suffering from vision loss to bring some normality into their lives. You can now connect this device to your TV cable box, Apple TV, Cox, or Comcast and stream live videos directly to your headset.