Countless people across the country face blindness, as they get older. But experts say they have found an effective solution.
The leading cause of blindness in people over the age of fifty is macular degeneration. A new study shows that there could be a great treatment option to prevent this form of blindness.
Fox explains the research, “Through their research, they have discovered that interleukin 18 (IL18), a component of the immune system, can protect patients from vision loss, and it can be administered in a non-invasive way. Since current treatments for AMD involve periodically injecting medication directly into the eyeball, this could have significant implications for AMD therapy.”
The treatment will be relatively simple. “AMD has two major forms: ‘dry,’ the more common form, and ‘wet,’ which accounts for 90 percent of the severe vision loss caused by macular degeneration. When a patient suffers from wet AMD, the blood vessels grow into the retina, the layer of tissue lining the inner surface of the eye, and begin to leak blood or fluid – causing immediate retinal blindness. Retinal blindness can be especially challenging for patients, as the retina provides sharp, central vision for reading, driving and perceiving small details. In order to combat wet AMD, patients must undergo eye injections of antibodies that inhibit a molecule called VEGF – which is responsible for stimulating the overgrowth of blood vessels into the retina. These injections are effective, but they can be extremely uncomfortable, and patients must receive them on a monthly basis,” according to Fox.
The lead author of the study explains how helpful the injections are, “While the current therapies for wet AMD are like sponges and mop up the VEGF, this stops its development completely. In the short term, [anti-VEGF injections] are very effective and can improve people’s vision. But the main problem with anti-VEGF treatment is when do we stop? The simple answer is we don’t, and some people can become resistant. So we need to explore ways to extend length of time between injections.”