New technologies, treatments could slow vision loss from macular degeneration (2023)

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New technologies, treatments could slow vision loss from macular degeneration (1)

Airman 1st Class Jessica Borrowman uses a fundus camera to take a photo of a patient's retina on Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan. File photo by Senior Airman Laura Muehl/ Illinois Air National Guard

NEW YORK, March 1 (UPI) -- Age-related macular degeneration remains a leading cause of vision loss in the United States, but new advancements could help manage and, in some cases, prevent its devastating symptoms, experts told UPI recently.

That would be good news for the more than 13 million people nationally who are affected by the condition, which progressively destroys the macula, or the part of the eye that provides sharp, central vision needed to see objects clearly.

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More than one in 10 of people with age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, will see their symptoms progress so that they lose most or all of their vision, impacting their ability to perform day-to-day activities, including driving, and live independently, research indicates.

For nearly 20 years now, people with advanced AMD, which tends to affect older adults and worsen with age, have been treated with drugs called anti-VEGF therapies, which are injected into the affected eye every one to three months.

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Though effective -- nine out of 10 people treated with anti-VEGF injections experience say their vision remains stable, while one in three report improvement -- the injections can cause pain and discomfort. Doctors sought less invasive options.

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"Many drugs are being developed, and we are excited to have two new drugs recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration," ophthalmologist Dr. J. Fernando Arevalo told UPI in an email.

As with anti-VEGF therapies, with these newer drugs, "early treatment is associated to better vision," said Arevalo, chairman of the ophthalmology department at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore.

New drugs

One of the new treatments approved by the FDA, called the Port Delivery System, changes the way an older anti-VEGF therapy, ranibizumab, is administered, perhaps allowing people with age-related macular degeneration to "avoid monthly injections," Arevalo said.

Cleared for use by the FDA in November, the Port Delivery System is surgically inserted into the affected eye or eyes and delivers, by "slow release," the anti-VEGF drug ranibizumab, he said.

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The implant only needs to be refilled every six months or so, according to Arevalo.

The other new option, approved by the FDA last week, is an anti-VEGF drug called faricimab, which is sold under the brand name Vabysmo, and it "has a longer duration of action" than older products, Arevalo said.

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This longer duration of action, meaning it works longer than older drugs, could see age-related macular degeneration patients go as long as four months without need for follow-up injections, he said.

An ounce of prevention

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Still, researchers are hoping to find ways people can avoid surgeries and injections, by not developing age-related macular degeneration in the first place.

To that end, researchers at the University of California-Davis found that adults who regularly eat a small serving of dried goji berries may be able to avoid or delay the development of age-related macular degeneration.

In a study published by the journal Nutrients in December, 13 healthy participants ages 45 to 65 years who consumed 28 grams, or about one ounce, of goji berries five times a week for 90 days increased the density of protective pigments called lutein and zeaxanthin in their eyes, the data showed.

These pigments filter out harmful blue light, provide antioxidant protection and help to protect the eyes during aging, study co-author Dr. Glenn C. Yiu told UPI in an email.

"Goji berries have a high concentration of macular pigments [that] can help filter out harmful light radiation," said Yiu, an associate professor of ophthalmology at the UC- Davis.

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With these nutrients, the berries could offer "potential prevention or reduction of progression," he said.

Goji, which is also called wolfberry, boxthorn and matrimony vine and is native to China, is a thorny deciduous woody shrub, according to Penn State University Extension.

Eaten fresh, their taste can be bitter, though in dried form, the type used in the Davis study, they are similar to cranberries, the food blog SimplyHealthyFamily.org reports.

However, people at risk for age-related macular degeneration, typically White adults age 50 years and older, should wait for more, larger studies before expecting miracles from goji berries, Yiu said.

Still, people eating them in moderation are not likely to experience side effects, meaning they could provide a risk-free prevention strategy until more research becomes available, he said.

Nutrition-based prevention for age-related macular degeneration is hardly new, according to Johns Hopkins' Arevalo.

The National Eye Institute currently recommends a Bausch & Lomb formulation called AREDS2 for age-related eye diseases. It contains vitamins and antioxidants known to boost eye health and slow progression of macular damage, he said.

In addition, the acai berry has been touted for its anti-aging properties, though scientific research supporting its benefits is lacking, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health reports.

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"Because goji berries are not a medication, but a natural food and ingredient that has anti-oxidant properties, I think people can consider trying to incorporate this into their diet," Yiu said.

There's an app for that

Meanwhile, a company called Balanced Media/Technology has been working with the Retina Foundation of the Southwest and researchers at Southern Methodist University to develop an app that uses automated software and a video game to diagnose AMD and other eye diseases.

The crowd-sourced original video game, called Eye in the Sky: Defender, uses embedded optical coherence tomography retinal images to effectively scan players' eyes for damage caused by disease, the developers said.

Optical coherence tomography is a non-invasive imaging test that uses light waves to take cross-section pictures of the retina, allowing ophthalmologists to see its individual layers and measure their thickness, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

As players predict the path of the alien force in Eye in the Sky: Defender, they unknowingly learn to trace lines similar to those used to perform diagnostic measurements in optical coherence tomography, the developers of the game said.

When combined with an artificial intelligence platform developed by Balanced, the data collected in the game can be used to train a machine learning algorithm to analyze optical coherence tomography images more accurately, they said.

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This would not prevent the onset of AMD, but it may speed its diagnosis, according to the developers, and earlier diagnosis means earlier treatment, which can improve results, Arevalo said.

"The use of gaming software, combined with optical coherence tomography imaging, forms a [disease] detection and monitoring tool," Matthew Levine, director of grants, partnerships and advocacy for the non-profit American Macular Degeneration Foundation, told UPI in an email.

This is "a very important advance [that] could lead to earlier and timelier interventions," said Levine, who was not involved in the development of the app.

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Some patients may be able to pause eye injections for macular degeneration

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FAQs

What is the newest treatment for macular degeneration? ›

Federal regulators have approved a new injectable medication for wet age-related macular degeneration and diabetic macular edema. The two diseases are among the leading causes of vision loss. The new medication, Vabysmo, will require less frequent injection treatments than drugs currently used.

Are there any new breakthroughs in macular degeneration? ›

One promising new treatment, for wet AMD, involves retinal gene therapy, as an alternative to monthly eye injections.

Can you use Vuity If you have macular degeneration? ›

Having macular degeneration is not a reason for this to not work, but people with macular degeneration are likely older than the intended audience for this medication.

Can vision loss from macular degeneration be restored? ›

At present, there is no cure for macular degeneration. However, there are a few treatments for the condition. They cannot reverse macular degeneration, but they can prevent it from worsening.

Is there an alternative to injections for macular degeneration? ›

Susvimo is the first wet AMD treatment in 15 years to provide an alternative to standard-of-care eye injections needed as often as once a month. By continuously delivering medicine into the eye via a refillable implant, Susvimo may help people with wet AMD maintain their vision with as few as two treatments per year.

Can macular degeneration be cured with stem cells? ›

Scientists are hopeful that stem cells, and stem cell therapy may be able to play an important role to treat macular disease. Stem cells may be able to grow and replace lost or damaged cells in the eye that are responsible for vision loss in macular conditions.

How effective are eye injections for macular degeneration? ›

Among people with wet macular degeneration, 20–30% of those receiving these injections will lose at least six lines of vision, in comparison with 50–60% of those who do not receive this treatment.

Can laser eye surgery fix macular degeneration? ›

Laser photocoagulation is a type of laser surgery for the eyes. It is done to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is a condition that can lead to loss of vision.

Can you get an eye transplant for macular degeneration? ›

The researchers said transplantation of RPE stem cells derived from human adult cadaver eyes to replace the defective RPE is a possible treatment for macular degeneration, but additional research on this approach is necessary.

Who Cannot use Vuity? ›

VUITY is not recommended to be used when iritis is present because adhesions (synechiae) may form between the iris and lens. Contact lens wearers should be advised to remove their lenses prior to the instillation of VUITY and to wait 10 minutes after dosing before reinserting their contact lenses.

Who Cannot use Vuity eye drops? ›

4 CONTRAINDICATIONS

VUITY is contraindicated in patients with known hypersensitivity to the active ingredient or to any of the excipients.

What do eye doctors think of Vuity? ›

Dr. Maiti believes that Vuity might not be as useful for those of her patients with high adds or those who need to see very fine detail at near. Additionally, those who would be frustrated by blur or fluctuation in their vision throughout the day might find Vuity a poor management strategy.

Can macular degeneration get better? ›

There's no cure, but treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) may slow the disease and keep you from having a severe loss of vision. Talk to your doctor about the best way to manage your condition.

What foods reverse macular degeneration? ›

While there is no specific diet for age-related macular degeneration, research suggests that eating a diet rich in anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, fatty fish, and oils, is associated with decreasing risk and progression.

How can I improve my macular degeneration naturally? ›

What Are Some Natural or Home Remedies to Treat AMD?
  1. Avoid beta carotene.
  2. Eat more vegetables, especially leafy greens.
  3. Reduce sugar intake significantly.
  4. Consume more omega-3 fatty acid foods, like fish.
  5. Eat more fruit, especially high-fiber fruit.
11 Nov 2021

What can slow down macular degeneration? ›

Eating a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids, low in saturated fats and cholesterol, low in refined sugar or processed carbohydrates, and high in specific vitamins and minerals not only improves your overall health but can reduce the risk and help slow the progression of AMD.

Can macula degeneration be stopped? ›

There are certain measures you can take to prevent or slow the progression of macular degeneration. These include eating healthy foods, not smoking, eating fish or taking omega 3 supplements, and exercising regularly. Below is a more detailed list of ways to help prevent or slow the progression of macular degeneration.

What vitamin helps with reducing macular degeneration? ›

Vitamins A, C, and E are the most effective vitamins for reducing the risk of macular degeneration [13]. However, only vitamin A plays an essential role in the human retinal pigment epithelial cells, whereas vitamins C and E are known to act as antioxidants.

Should you take zinc If you have macular degeneration? ›

Zinc supplementation is reported to slow down the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), but there is no general consensus on the beneficiary effect on zinc in AMD. As zinc can stimulate autophagy that is declined in AMD, it is rational to assume that it can slow down its progression.

What is the cost of stem cell therapy? ›

Stem cell therapy cost can range anywhere between $5000 - $50,000. Patients must do their research and ask as many questions as they can before financially committing to treatment.

Are eye injections worth it? ›

These injections have shown to halt the ongoing vision loss and, in some cases, even improve the vision. The therapy is most effective if started between 7 and 21 weeks of the onset of symptoms. In many studies, improvements were consistent and maintained for two years after starting the treatment.

Does cataract surgery speed up macular degeneration? ›

Will Cataract Surgery Make Macular Degeneration Worse? While there are a few studies suggesting that cataract surgery might make AMD worse, the largest, most definitive studies indicate that it has no effect.

Can vision get worse after eye injection? ›

Contact your eye doctor right away if you have pain or vision problems that are getting worse after an injection. These could be signs of infection.

Should I have cataract surgery if I have macular degeneration? ›

The majority of the studies on the subject conclude that it is safe to have cataract surgery even if you have AMD and in most cases there is a significant improvement in vision. Removing the cloudy lens also helps the ophthalmologist to better monitor the status of the AMD.

Is Vuity eye drops covered by insurance? ›

Is Vuity Covered by Insurance? Currently Vuity eye drops are not covered by any insurance. The insurance companies currently view this as a cosmetic thing and that is why they do not cover the vuity drops at this time. So, the cost of Vuity eye drops with insurance is still the $80 a month.

Can you still see distance with Vuity? ›

Does it impact my distance vision? In studies, VUITY™ improved near vision without compromising distance vision. This was measured by the proportion of patients achieving a 3-line gain or more reading a near vision eye chart without losing more than 1 line in a distance vision eye chart at Day 30, 3 hours after dosing.

What are the risks of Vuity? ›

Vuity may cause serious side effects including:
  • hives,
  • difficulty breathing,
  • swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat,
  • blurred vision,
  • eye pain,
  • visual impairment,
  • eye irritation, and.
  • excessive tearing or watering of the eye.

Can Vuity cause a detached retina? ›

Very rare adverse effects from Vuity may include acute angle-closure glaucoma and retinal detachment. Therefore, the following symptoms should be reported promptly: new flashes and/or floaters, any loss of vision (including loss of side vision), pain, or significant redness.

Can Vuity eye drops cause retinal detachment? ›

EARLY REPORTS OF ADVERSE EVENTS FOLLOWING VUITY ADMINISTRATION. In the few months that Vuity has been on the market, retina specialists are beginning to encounter cases of retinal tears, detachments, and symptomatic scotomas attributable to vitreomacular traction immediately following use of Vuity.

Do you have to use Vuity forever? ›

VUITY can improve near vision for several hours a day, potentially enough to get through the work day without readers. However, they are not a permanent solution and you will likely still need reading glasses in the evening and on days that you do not use the eye drops.

Is Vuity expensive? ›

About Vuity

It may be covered by your Medicare or insurance plan, but some pharmacy coupons or cash prices could help offset the cost. The lowest GoodRx price for the most common version of Vuity is around $80.54, 11% off the average retail price of $90.70. Compare cholinergic agonists.

How long will Vuity last? ›

Improved near vision is typically noticed within 15 minutes of eye drop administration, and the effects generally last up to 6 hours.

How long does Vuity prescription last? ›

VUITY comes in a 2.5mL bottle which is estimated to last approximately a month if used once a day every day in both eyes.

What is the best eye injection for macular degeneration? ›

The most common and effective treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD) is called anti-VEGF therapy. Your doctor gives you this therapy through an injection directly into your eye.

Can you live a normal life with macular degeneration? ›

Fortunately, most patients with AMD can keep good vision for their entire lives, and even those who lose their central vision almost always maintain their side, or “peripheral” vision.

How can I stop macular degeneration from getting worse? ›

Even after receiving a diagnosis of dry macular degeneration, you can take steps that may help slow vision loss.
  1. Don't smoke. ...
  2. Choose a healthy diet. ...
  3. Manage your other medical conditions. ...
  4. Maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly. ...
  5. Have routine eye exams.
23 Nov 2022

What is the root cause of macular degeneration? ›

No one knows exactly what causes dry macular degeneration. Research indicates that it may be a combination of family genes and environmental factors, including smoking, obesity and diet. The condition develops as the eye ages.

Does turmeric help macular degeneration? ›

Results: Curcumin has found a role in slowing, and in some cases even reversing, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, retinitis pigmentosa, proliferative vitreoretinopathy, and retinal cancers.

Does CBD oil help macular degeneration? ›

The antioxidant properties of CBD may help slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD or AMD) and the neuroprotective properties may help some retinal diseases such as retinal ischemia.

Is it wise to have cataract surgery if you have macular degeneration? ›

The majority of the studies on the subject conclude that it is safe to have cataract surgery even if you have AMD and in most cases there is a significant improvement in vision. Removing the cloudy lens also helps the ophthalmologist to better monitor the status of the AMD.

Can glasses improve vision with macular degeneration? ›

Macular degeneration is an age-related eye disease that involves damage to the retina and often causes low vision. Since the damage to retina is not related to the shape of the cornea, the length of the eyeball, or the power of the lens, it cannot be corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses.

Can you legally drive with macular degeneration? ›

If you have macular degeneration, you may still be able to drive safely during the early stages. Your eye health care provider will tell you what to do to manage your symptoms so you can stay safe on the road. Even if you have to limit or give up driving, you can stay active and do the things you like to do.

Can laser eye surgery help macular degeneration? ›

Laser photocoagulation is a type of laser surgery for the eyes. It is done to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is a condition that can lead to loss of vision.

What aggravates macular degeneration? ›

Macular degeneration may have something to do with your genes. If someone in your family has it, your risk might be higher. Smoking, having high blood pressure or high cholesterol, obesity, eating lots of saturated fat, being light-skinned, being female, and having a light eye color are also risk factors.

How long does it take for macular degeneration to progress to blindness? ›

How Long Does it Take to Lose Vision with Macular Degeneration? In late stages of AMD, you may have difficulty seeing clearly. On average, it takes about 10 years to move from diagnosis to legal blindness, but there are some forms of macular degeneration that can cause sight loss in just days.

How can I fix macular degeneration naturally? ›

What Are Some Natural or Home Remedies to Treat AMD?
  1. Avoid beta carotene.
  2. Eat more vegetables, especially leafy greens.
  3. Reduce sugar intake significantly.
  4. Consume more omega-3 fatty acid foods, like fish.
  5. Eat more fruit, especially high-fiber fruit.
11 Nov 2021

Does coffee help macular degeneration? ›

Macular Findings in Coffee Drinkers

What they found is that caffeine can potentially slow the progression of inflammatory retinal diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

What medications should be avoided with macular degeneration? ›

If you take medication to lower your blood pressure, it's important to know that you could be increasing your risk of developing AMD, or age-related macular degeneration. These risks are significantly increased if you take Apresoline and Loniten, both of which dilate the blood vessels.

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