New discoveries in molecular and cellular biology are expanding our understanding of AMD and accelerating the pace of research. Scientists and practitioners are conducting investigations to learn more about the underlying causes of AMD and testing a number of promising therapies for both the dry and wet forms.
New delivery approaches and medications for wet AMD
Experimental drugs are being studied at Casey and elsewhere to improve or refine current treatments for wet AMD. For example, researchers are testing medications that target different sources of abnormal blood vessel growth - sometimes in combination with anti-VEGF agents (such as Lucentis or Eylea) - to learn if treatment benefits can be extended. New ways to deliver the medications to the eye, such as via an implant in the eye, are also being studied.
Cell cycle modifiers
These drugs lessen the build-up of harmful waste deposits in the retina by slowing the visual cycle. The deposits may interfere with the retina's ability to nourish the eye's light-sensing cells, leading to dry AMD. Study medications are in various stages of testing in the United States and abroad.
Casey Eye Institute and other research centers are exploring the use of helpful genes to halt the growth of harmful blood vessels that occurs in wet AMD. The gene medication, which is delivered to the retina by a harmless, non-active virus, may provide more long-lasting protection than the current treatment of repeated injections of anti-angiogenic medications.
Stem cell therapy
Scientists are studying the use of human stem cells to support, protect and nourish retinal cells in people with degenerative eye disease. The hope is to preserve vision and eventually restore vision. Investigations are underway to find out if stem cell therapy is safe and effective in the human eye. These studies are still in the early stages and it will be some time before stem cell therapy is perfected and available.
A promising class of biomedicines contains neuroprotective proteins that slow or prevent the degeneration of cells in the retina. These experimental therapies are being tested in patients with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and dry AMD.
Because AMD is so widespread and treatment options limited, numerous remedies claim to restore vision. Some of these include microcurrent stimulation, various herbs, rheotherapy and magnet therapy. We do not recommend these and other treatments that have not undergone rigorous scientific testing.