More Treatment for Macular Degeneration
As we age, we become increasingly at risk for developing a cataract, age-related macular degeneration (also called macular degeneration and AMD) and glaucoma. Below you will find information about various treatments for macular degeneration, including some that are also in early stages of investigation.
Theragenics Corp. is working on a device called the TheraSight Ocular Brachytherapy System. This system uses low energy x-rays to treat age-related macular degeneration. Clinical trials are beginning to test the therapy's safety and feasibility in treating the abnormal blood vessel formation associated with wet AMD.
There is a tiny device making news that would magnify images onto the retina to improve central vision damaged by the progression of AMD. The relative size of the central blind spot is reduced by magnification of the overall image. The Implantable Miniature Telescope (IMT) was invented during the late 1990s; now it is being tested in about 200 people. It may still be a few years before it is available if the IMT shows promise in clinical trials that are now underway.
The RHEO Procedure
The RHEO procedure was developed to treat dry AMD through a type of blood filtration by removing certain substances in the blood plasma that have been associated with macular degeneration. Macro-proteins and fatty components in the blood such as LDL cholesterol, IgM and vWF are among these substances, which are known to thicken the blood, decrease blood flow, and damage capillary vessels. Rheopheresis results in better blood flow through the tiniest capillaries, and the improved circulation can supply the eye's macular cells with oxygen and nutrients better, according to researchers. The RHEO procedure consists of 8 filtration treatments over a ten to fourteen week period. This is about 10 to 12 percent of the patient's blood volume circulating through the closed loop system at any given time. The RHEO device's clinical trials have been stalled due to a lack of funding.
Transpupillary Thermotherapy (TTT)
Transpupillary Thermotherapy, an experimental method using an infrared laser combined with drug treatment for AMD, developed by Iridex has had mixed results. However, Iridex officials announced that the treatment does appear to benefit certain individuals with more severe vision loss from macular degeneration.
Low Vision Devices for Vision Loss
Any central vision lost to dry AMD will probably not be restored, even though much progress has been made recently in macular degeneration treatment research. Your eye doctor may check your contrast sensitivity and/or ask you to check your vision regularly with an Amsler grid. In order to help you monitor your vision loss, view the Amsler grid separately with each eye. The Amsler grid is a very sensitive test that generally reveals clinical findings before your doctor can see physical findings. Many low vision devices are available to help improve vision by using magnifying lenses and bright lights, for those who suffering from vision loss. Some low vision aids shift images to the periphery for clearer vision.
Research has become overwhelmingly focused on developing artificial retinas or methods of stimulating the retina for those who have experienced permanent vision loss from retinal disease. For example, Optobionics is investigating the Artificial Silicon Retina microchip. This chip would stimulate healthy retinal cells to restore vision for those who have diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration.
Macular Degeneration Surgical Options
Surgery likely would be considered a last resort for patients who fail to respond to the other less probing macular degeneration therapies. Surgical removal of damaged tissue could be one option. Injections of gas and/or a drug that dissolves blood clots also have been researched as a way to breakup unwanted blood accompanying abnormal blood vessel growth and leakage. Moving and separating damaged tissue from healthy tissue as a way to preserve vision function are now being studied, otherwise known as translocation operations.