A new hope

3 May 2024
Spring 2024

Adrian O’Dowd explores a new treatment for late-stage dry AMD being considered for approved use in the UK that could raise hopes of delaying the irreversible sight loss caused by the disease.

Domains covered

Communication Clinical practice

Breakthrough treatments for common diseases are rare: when a new treatment appears on the horizon for one of the most common eye conditions, health professionals are bound to take note.

A new treatment promises to slow down the dry form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and give patients extra time before their vision fails.

While wet AMD can be treatable with intravitreal injection of drugs, dry AMD is not medically treatable. Around 85% to 90% of people with AMD have the dry form, which is classified as being in an early, intermediate or late stage (Schultz et al, 2021 ).

Some patients with dry AMD may develop geographic atrophy (GA), which can result in a blind spot in the visual field in one or both eyes.

For people at the intermediate stage of the disease, a combination of antioxidant vitamins called the AREDS 2 (named after Age-Related Eye Disease Studies 2 ) formula can help reduce risk of vision loss, but for those who have late-stage AMD (GA), there is currently no treatment.

In studies carried out by the National Eye Institute, the AREDS 2 supplements were shown to reduce the risk of progression from intermediate to advanced AMD by about 25% (Agrón et al, 2022; Vitale et al, 2020 ). However, it is not clear whether this is the case in the wider population. NICE ( 2018 ) says there is not enough clinical evidence to make any strong recommendations on changing diet or taking nutritional supplements for AMD.

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