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Injections for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) can now improve vision loss

In this series of blogs posts, which are based on short interviews (Ed: embed the youtube clip under this paragraph), Medical Retinal Expert Jaheed Khan describes the different types of AMD; including:

  • the dry and the wet,
  • how they present,
  • what they look like,
  • how they differ, and
  • how we can treat them.

Jane Olver: Jaheed tell me about the possible treatments for wet age-related macular degeneration, please?
Jaheed Khan: So, we can treat wet age-related macular degeneration. If you develop early signs of the wet form of AMD, we can reverse the growth of the blood vessels within the retina. We can do that by injecting a medicine into the back of the eye, into the gel cavity at the back of the eye, which then diffuses into the retina and reduces the blood vessel formation and reduces the chances of those blood vessels leaking. We give that painlessly with an infection in the white of the eye, and that medicine is very effective in reducing the chance of wet macular degeneration.
JO: Jaheed we were talking about wet age-related macular degeneration and the treatment thereof. It is absolutely fascinating that you could do injections into the eye that can not only stop the progression, but it sounds like you can also get a small improvement. Tell us a little bit more about this. What are the current drugs being used?
JK: You are quite right, Jane. The revolutionary thing about these drugs is that they do not just stabilise your vision loss, they reverse it. We would expect at least 30% of people to benefit from visual gain with injections with a course of treatment.
The current treatment that is available are the main drugs that we called anti-VEGF. VEGF is a short-term for the vascular endothelial growth factor. It is the molecule involved in the growth of these new blood vessels which we do not want in our retina. If we can block those molecules, then the blood vessels shrink.
The two mains drugs are called Lucentis, and another one is called Eylea. They work in very similar ways by blocking that VEGF molecule. The issue with these medicines, unfortunately, is they do not last very long within the eye, they metabolise quite quickly, and we need to keep giving injections with a sustained effect. With time and with lots of injections and reversal of the blood vessels, these blood vessels tend to shrink, and they do not leak quite profusely in the future.
JO: That is fantastic. Thank you. In the next interview with  Medical Retinal Expert Jaheed Khan, we will talk more about the number of injections needed to treat AMD.


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