Age-related macular degeneration is an eye disease that occurs with age and results in deterioration of the macula, the small, central portion of the retina.
AMD is the leading cause of blindness for people over the age of 50 in the United States and Europe. It affects as many as 15 million Americans with 200,000 new cases each year, according to theMacular Degeneration Partnership.
Even when AMD does not lead to complete blindness, it significantly hinders reading, driving, identifying faces, watching television, navigating stairs safely and performing other daily tasks. Individuals with AMD may lose all but their outermost, peripheral vision.
There are two forms of the disease, namely “dry” and “wet” AMD. Wet AMD is characterized by the growth of new blood vessels into the central region of the retina. These new and abnormal blood vessels cause severe central vision loss due to retinal damage, which is caused by leakage or bleeding from the blood vessels and subsequent scar formation.
Current Treatment Options
There is no current cure for wet AMD. However, if diagnosed and treated early enough, some FDA-approved therapies may slow the progress of wet AMD and reduce the amount of vision loss.
Treatments include bevacizumab (Avastin), ranibizumab (Lucentis), pegaptanib (Macugen) and aflibercept (Eylea). These medications are injected directly into the patient’s affected eye, as often as every four weeks.