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Radiotherapy for Wet AMD Print E-mail

Several research programs are looking at various types of radiation treatment for wet macular degeneration.  Recently, one form, brachyotherapy, showed disappointing results.

But, at the Academy of Ophthalmology meeting, another treatment was more encouraging. Dr. Darius M. Moshfeghi, from Standord University, reported on a technique called Radiotherapy.  It does seem to reduce the number of injections needed in people with wet AMD, which was the goal of treatment.

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RetinoStat Enrollment Complete Print E-mail

Oxford BioMedica announced that it has completed enrollment of the Phase I RetinoStatR clinical trial for wet macular degeneration.  Results are expected towards the end of 2014.

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Intravenous Treatment Print E-mail

The use of drugs to stop the growth of blood vessels in macular degeneration (Lucentis, Eylea, Avastin, Macugen) revolutionized treatment for wet AMD.  They proved to be effective in slowing or stopping the progression of the disease and vision loss.  The repeated injections of these drugs into the eye and their high cost is a negative.  So scientists have continued to look for other, less invasive therapies.

Researchers from Ireland and the U.S. have collaborated on early laboratory research that may provide a longer lasting result.  It would be administered through a vein, instead of injected into the eye and may eliminate or reduce the need to inject directly into the eye.

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Argus II Gets Medicare Code Print E-mail

A few months ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of the Argus II retinal implant in those with retinitis pigmentosa (RP).  This month, Medicare issued a billing code, clearing the way for payment.

The Argus II has been under development for years, with hope that it could provide an "artificial retina" and return vision to those who are blind.  People with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) lose portions of their vision over a span of years, eventually becoming completely blind.  Since those who have age-related macular degeneration always retain some peripheral vision, the Argus II is not an option at this time.

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AMD and Alzheimer's Print E-mail

Are macular degeneration and Alzheimer's disease linked in some way?  In recent years, some have said yes, pointing to the presence of plaque in both diseases.  In Alzheimer's, there is plaque on the brain; in AMD, it takes the form of protein deposits (drusen) in the retina.  And certainly, people with Alzheimer's do get age-related macular degeneration.  But, more recent research does not see them connected.

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Food Sources of Vitamins and Minerals Print E-mail

Taking vitamins won't make up for a poor diet. Be sure to eat a variety of foods, especially fruits and vegetables, every day. Here is a list of vitamins and the foods where they are found.

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Guide to E-Readers for AMD Print E-mail

Leslie Degner, RN, BSN is a registered nurse with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing, and 20 years of RN experience.  She is also the daughter-in-law to someone who is struggling with AMD and a wife to someone with an extensive family history of the disease.

We asked Leslie for some tips on choosing an e-reader or computer tablet when you have low vision.  These devices are becoming very popular with people who have AMD and need magnification.  After researching the options, she shares tips for picking one that will work for you.  Following this article is a link to her review of devices with pros and cons for AMD.

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Squalamine Eye Drop Update Print E-mail

Ohr Pharmaceuticals announced they have completed enrollment in their Phase II clinical trial of Squalamine eye drops.  There are now 142 patients in the study.  The drug is designed for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  In June of this year, they plan to release the interim results from the first 60 patients.

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Nanoparticle Eyedrops Deliver Avastin Print E-mail

We tend to take eyedrops for granted; most of us have used them for a variety of problems.  We drop them on the surface of the eye (the cornea) and they help soothe dry eyes, for instance.  But what if they could somehow reach all the way to the back of the eye, to the retina where macular degeneration is destroying vision?  Historically, drugs in eye drops couldn't cross that barrier, but nanoparticles are extremely small and may make it possible.

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Emixustat 2b/3 Clinical Trial Fully Enrolled Print E-mail

Acucela Inc. announced that it has completed enrollment in its ongoing Phase 2b/3 clinical trial investigating emixustat in geographic atrophy (GA) associated with dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  GA is the advanced stage of dry AMD, where an area of retinal cells die off.  It's a good target for researchers because they are able to measure if a treatment can shrink the size of the area, or in this case, stop it from getting larger.

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Gene Therapy for Wet AMD Print E-mail

According to Jeffrey S. Heier, MD, the eye is the ideal location to try gene therapy because it is such a small organ.   Two Phase I clinical trials are underway to study the safety and dosages of different gene therapies for wet AMD.  In gene therapy, a virus vector (a sort of transport vehicle) carries the therapy to the retina.  A piece of DNA is spliced into an engineered virus. The benefit is that it can persist indefinitely; it would be a one time treatment.The technique has been successfully used to treat Leber congenital amaurosis type 2 (a retinal disease that affects children),so there is some hope it might be used successfully for macular degeneration.

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Glucose and AMD Print E-mail

Spinach and kale aren't the only things to watch in your diet.  Eating low glycemic foods may slow the development and progression of AMD. The glycemic index measures how quickly carbohydrates get glucose (sugar) into the blood stream. People with diabetes will find this familiar. High glycemic foods like potatoes, white rice, processed foods like cakes and crackers and cereal raise the blood glucose level.  Low glycemic foods include vegetables and beans.

Several years ago researchers at Tufts University found that mice fed a low glycemic diet developed fewer and less severe age-related lesions in the retina than mice fed the higher GI diet. When lesions like this develop after age 60 in humans, they are the earliest warning sign of age-related macular degeneration. Earlier studies in humans resulted in similar observations.

Here are some tips from Harvard University for low-glycemic eating.

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StemCells, Inc. for AMD Print E-mail

This month, StemCells, Inc. announced the completion of the first of two cohorts (groups) in their study of neural stem cells for dry AMD.  The product used in this research are HuCNS-SC cells are different from some of the other stem cell trials.  They are purified human neural stem cells.  In previous work, these cells were shown to survive a long time, holding out the possibility that a single injection could provide a lasting effect.

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Guide to E-Readers for AMD Print E-mail

We are grateful to Leslie Degner, RN, BSN for the following article.  Leslie is......

Her father-in-law has AMD and uses a Nook.  Leslie did extensive research and will pass on some tips to help with that selection.

1. Determine how the ebook reader will be used.

If it is just to read books, then get an easy to navigate touch screen black and white reader, like the Kindle Paperwhite or Barnes and Noble GlowLight. For those who miss reading their favorite magazine full of colored pictures of beautiful rose gardens or delicious recipes, get a color reader. Almost all magazines can now be digitally downloaded. The reader can zoom the picture as well as enlarge the font.

 

2. Determine where the e-book reader will be used.

 

I enjoy reading outside as well as inside - whether it is in our backyard or on the beach. The best readers for that are the black and white readers with glare free screens - like the Kindle Paperwhite, the Kindle DX or the Barnes and Noble GlowLight.

3. Determine the best size screen.

Depending on how advanced one's macular degeneration has become, the more need there is for larger fonts the more one needs a larger screen size. Screen sizes range from 6" to 10".

4. Determine how the reader will connect.

If a person has Wi-Fi at home, then that perhaps will be the less expensive option. But if there is no Wi-Fi at the house or one wants the convenience of getting books, magazines and the daily newspaper whenever and wherever, then a 3G connection is the way to go.

Electronic Book Readers for Those with Macular Degeneration

 
Implantable Miniature Telescope Update Print E-mail
The Macular Degeneration Partnership has received numerous questions about the IMT - Implantable Miniature Telescope - since it was approved by the FDA in 2010. The IMT is becoming more widely available now.  The IMT is a tiny telescope implanted inside the eye that may benefit older adults with advanced AMD. Smaller than a pea, this device is proven to restore sight and quality of life in eligible candidates. Unfortunately, the inclusion criteria to be eligible for the device are narrow.  Most importantly, the IMT can only be implanted into an eye that has not had a cataract removed yet.   We encourage you to review the below information to see if you or a loved one might be a candidate for this procedure.
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Vitamins and Genes Print E-mail
One of the most interesting potentials for genetic testing
 
Exercise and AMD - New Research Print E-mail

We know that exercise is good for your heart and your eyes, that people who exercise regularly are generally healthier, and that sedentary lifestyle can contribute to macular degeneration.  New research at the Atlanta VA Center for Visual and Neurocognitive Rehabilitation confirms that exercise is good for your retina, specifically.

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Vitamins and Genes Print E-mail

One of the most interesting potentials for genetic testing is to determine if a patient's genes will affect how well a treatment works.  This could include how well vitamin supplementation for AMD works.  There is some evidence that certain patients respond better to the AREDS formula.  On the other hand, routine genetic testing is not recommended.  Two researchers discussed this issue.

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Eye Drops Update Print E-mail

At the eye meeting in Miami this month, wet AMD was the topic.  Dr. Lawrence J. Singerman gave an update on the status of Squalamine eye drops.  We've been hearing about these for awhile now.  They are in a Phase II clinical trial and the data from that will be released at the end of this year.  In the meantime, we have some updates.

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Dry AMD Emerging Therapies Print E-mail

One of the greatest frustrations in macular degeneration is the lack of treatment for dry or atrophic macular degeneration.  Of all the millions of people with AMD, about 80-85% of them have the dry form of the disease.  Currently, the only thing available to those individuals is making changes in their lifestyle risk factors and taking the AREDS supplement.  The AREDS (Age-Related Eye Disease Study) formula was shown to slow the progression of the disease by 25% in those with intermediate dry AMD.

At the recent Academy of Ophthalmology Retina meeting, several reports carried updates on some potential therapies for dry AMD - and they don't rely on injections into the eye.  There are two main issues with dry macular degeneration: drusen and geographic atrophy.  Drusen are protein deposit in the retina.  Geographic atrophy is a more advanced form of dry AMD which involves patches of cells in the retina to die off.  

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