Over seven million people in the United States are at risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Up until now, treatments for this form of vision loss are limited, including options such as heat lasers or drugs. However, these treatment options aren’t fool-proof and are, in many cases, both inconvenient and uncomfortable. Fortunately, there could be a new option for vision loss sufferers on the horizon. New research has stumbled upon a more effective, easier and more convenient topical treatment for macular degeneration, which could significantly help those who suffer from this form of vision loss.
Macular degeneration is an eye condition that usually strikes older adults. It leads to vision loss in the center of the visual field, called the “macula,” due to damage to the retina. Often referred to as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), it can occur in dry and wet forms.
Dry macular degeneration is a chronic disease that attacks the layer of tissue on the inside back wall of the eyeball. Wet macular degeneration takes place when blood vessels grow under the retina in the back of the eye and then leak blood and fluid. While dry AMD is the more common form of the disease, many people with dry AMD progress to wet AMD.
A team of researchers from Tufts University School of Medicine and the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences believe they have discovered a possible topical treatment for AMD. They are the first to report success in treating symptoms of both dry and wet macular degeneration with the application of a topical compound.
The researchers first took mice and induced the tissue damage and blood vessel growth characteristic of human macular degeneration. Then they applied a topical compound called “PPADS” to their eyes every twenty-four hours, for three days straight. The eye tissue was examined one week later to assess the progression of damage. The researchers made two incredible discoveries: first, the compound stopped an immune system process known as “complement,” which is largely responsible for dry macular degeneration; second, the compound prevented the formation of blood vessels that can leak and damage the eye, which is associated with wet macular degeneration.
Macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of blindness among the elderly. Whether it is dry or wet AMD, adjusting to the vision loss can be extremely challenging. Health practitioners say that diet, smoking and genetics are contributing factors to the development of macular degeneration.
While the topical treatment research has yet to be conducted on humans with macular degeneration, many medical experts suggest it is a promising breakthrough. A topical treatment would go a long way in eliminating the discomfort many patients must undergo with current AMD treatments, and would provide an easier and more convenient solution. Researchers also believe it would cut down on the number of visits patients make to doctors’ offices for special attention and treatment due to macular degeneration.