The normal treatments for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) depend on the type of AMD. For wet AMD, which is the more serious type that can result in severe vision loss, doctors treat it with eye injections. For dry AMD, which is the more common type of AMD and also causes less vision damage, doctors typically treat it with antioxidant vitamins.
Although these treatments were groundbreaking when they were first introduced, medicine has come a long way in the past decade. This is good news for patients, who with every passing year benefit from new research into better treatments for AMD. Researchers exploring new options for treating AMD are hopeful that there will soon be new treatments that are more effective.
While new treatments are still being researched, ophthalmologists hope that soon they can use that promising research to prevent people from becoming legally blind due to AMD.
New Treatments for Wet AMD
Wet age-related macular degeneration is the more serious type of AMD. It has a more serious impact on patients’ vision and results in more vision loss than dry AMD. Fifteen years ago, anti-VEGF treatments were introduced, which allows about 50 percent of people with wet AMD to keep their vision. That percentage was as high as 90% in clinical trials for the treatment.
More Effective Anti-VEGF Treatments
The research into new treatments for wet AMD have focused on better methods of administering those anti-VEGF treatments that could see AMD patients getting new treatments every few months or even years instead of every six to eight weeks. The research also focused on improving existing anti-VEGF treatments so that they can target more than one factor that contributes to AMD.
Researchers are also exploring the possibility of using gene therapy that could be a one-time treatment. The gene therapy could allow eyes to create their own anti-VEGF so that it wouldn’t need to be injected regularly. The long-term effectiveness of this treatment isn’t yet known.
New Treatments for Dry AMD
Antioxidant vitamins are the treatment for people with the early and intermediate stages of dry AMD. There is, however, no treatment available for the advanced stages. Researchers have been looking into treatments for dry AMD and are currently conducting clinical trials.
Vision Cell Replacement
In the late stages of dry AMD, some vision cells die off. One treatment option researchers are investigating is the possibility of replacing those vision cells with new cells created from stem cells. Trials are still ongoing to see if the treatment could improve vision.
Immune System Targeting
Another treatment researchers have been investigating is an injection into the eye that targets proteins in the immune system. The injection would prevent the complement cascade of the immune system from attacking the retina, which is one of the factors causing dry AMD.