Recently there were two news items regarding age-related macular degeneration (AMD) that caught our eye and we want to share them with you. The first item is a promising new treatment for the disease and the second is new information on the role of nutrition to prevent AMD.
Eye drops instead of injections
The availability of eye drops to treat AMD would be a vast improvement for patients who currently have to endure injections to slow the rate of vision loss. Right now the only available treatment to seal leaking blood vessels in the eye that are associated with wet AMD is a laser that is guided by a drug that is injected into the patient’s eye. Medications called “anti-VEGF drugs” are inserted into the eye and the laser follows the medication to seal off leaking blood vessels in the retina while leaving normal vessels intact. Some patients need to have these injections every month. Although the American Macular Degeneration Foundation calls this “a major improvement over previous laser treatments,” the eye drops would be much less invasive and could advance treatments even further.
According to an article published by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), scientists at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom have developed “…a new type of eyedrop capable of delivering wet AMD treatment to the back of the eye where the disease damages the retina, causing blindness.”
The new eyedrop delivers the drug by penetrating through many layers of tissue between the surface of the eye and the back of the eye in minutes. According to the AAO, “Researchers treated mice with the anti-VEGF eyedrop twice a day, and found that it was as effective as a single injection of anti-VEGF treatment.”
Because the initial study was conducted on mice, more study needs to be conducted to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the treatments before they can be used for humans.
The role of nutrition in treating AMD
The other article that caught our eye was a report saying that the Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk of developing AMD. According to the AAO, the newly released study is one of the first “to look at the protective role of foods rather than dietary supplements in preventing vision loss from AMD.”
Called the “Coimbra Eye Study”, the research analyzed the diets of 883 people over the age of 55 who live in Portugal. According to the AAO. “Researchers found a lower frequency of AMD among those who ate more vegetables, legumes (such as beans), fish, cereals, and especially fruits. In fact, people in the study who ate just over 5 ounces of fruit per day were almost 15 percent less likely to have AMD.”
The Mediterranean diet is based on fresh, unprocessed based foods including fresh fruits and vegetables, olive oil, whole grains, and fish, (red meat once a month). Researchers analyzed the dietary fibers in the food that study participants ate and found that they appeared to offer protection from AMD. In addition to its potential protection from AMD, the Mediterranean Diet is well-known for its benefits for heart health and brain health.
The authors of the study made another surprising finding – that people who drank more caffeine were less like to suffer with age-related macular degeneration than those who drank less.
While these studies may present only preliminary findings, they also provide the reassurance that scientists are continuing to work to find cures for eye disease. While they continue their work, we provide vision enhancing technologies to people living with low vision caused by a variety of eye diseases. We believe that no one should be told nothing more can be done to improve their vision. We enhance low vision and legal blindness with innovative medical devices every day. If you or a loved one are living with low vision, call us. We can help.