I saw this article about ground-breaking laser surgery for treatment of macula degeneration in the British Daily Express a couple of weeks ago while I was visiting my parents in England. I thought the article very interesting as it looks like this could be a new treatment for the prevention of AMD that could come to market very soon.
“A short zap from the specially created “soft-pulse” laser will turn back the clock on the eye’s ageing process by 30 years and reverse the effects of age-related macular degeneration, scientists believe. The rejuvenating treatment could eventually eradicate altogether the condition which robs elderly people of their sight. Mark Howard, of Guide Dogs for the Blind which funded the research, said “This is an absolutely massive breakthrough. It should be a cheap and simple procedure that people can have done before their eyesight degenerates. This treatment could make AMD a thing of the past. In future people will be having this treatment to keep their eyes healthy before they go wrong. AMD is the leading cause of blindness in the over 60’s in the Western world. Initially it causes blurred or distorted central vision but worsens over time to cause partial or total blindness. It is caused when a membrane, called Bruch’s Membrane at the back of the eye, becomes clogged with natural waste products which block vital nutrients from passing into the retina. This leads to the death of retinal cells and eventual blindness in one or both eyes. In ‘youthful’ eyes, enzymes clear away this debris, but as the ageing process sets in, the body’s natural waste disposal system becomes weak and unable to deal with its workload.
Pioneering, ophthalmologist Professor John Marshal found that focusing a laser beam on part of the retina stimulates the release of the enzymes which then return the eye to its previously uncluttered state. In most cases the “clogging” begins when people reach their mid 40’s. Professor Marshall discovered the laser’s effects in clinical trials on diabetics. He now plans to conduct more trials on AMD sufferers. He hopes his “retinal regeneration therapy” will open up a whole new avenue of treatment for the condition. Conventional laser treatment has been used in the past but it has been too powerful and damaged the eye’s light sensitive cells in the process. Prof Marshall’s specially-created laser is bale to pass through the eyeball without damaging it. He said “The laser I’ve used is a totally new soft-pulse laser which doesn’t cause any damage to any of the nearby tissues. All it does is stimulate the required chemical reaction. And it treats both ‘dry’ AMD and the effects of ageing. The eye surgeon hopes his new clinical trials on sufferers with AMD in one eye will show that treating the unaffected eye could delay the onset of the disease by to seven years. ”
Source: How a laser zap can help cure blindness by Anil Dawa, Daily Express, July 6, 2009