Argus II Visual Prosthesis Receives FDA Approval
The Argus II visual prosthesis is an innovative device that restores vision in blind patients. It has been tested primarily in patients with retinitis pigmentosa but may eventually be useful in patients with advanced macular degeneration. A video describing the Argus II can be seen here. The vision it produces is far from what the healthy eye sees, but it is a start. The Argus II has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in the United States, so American patients who are eligible for the prosthesis can now benefit from it. Newer, improved versions of the prosthesis will be available in the coming years and will produce much better vision for patients with blinding eye diseases within the next decade.
Jetrea FDA-approved for Symptomatic Vitreomacular Adhesion
Jetrea (ocriplasmin) releases the vitreous from the retina and can improve vision in patients with disorders that involve an abnormal adesion between the vitreous gel and the central retina (macula). Prior to the availability of Jetrea, such disorders could only be effectively managed with vitrectomy surgery. Since Jetrea can be injected into the eye in the office, the risk and expense of vitrectomy can sometimes be avoided. Jetrea can sometimes close macular holes without surgery, as well. although vitrectomy closes macular holes with a markedly higher success rate.
Eylea Now Available for Central Retinal Vein Occlusion
Eylea has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of central retinal vein occlusion. It has been found to significantly improve the vision in roughly 50% of patients with this condition. Eylea is injected into the vitreous, just as it is used to treat macular degeneration.
Lucentis FDA-approved for Diabetic Macular Edema
Lucentis has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of diabetic macular edema (swelling in the retina due to diabetes). It is the first injectable medication to be approved by the FDA for treating macular edema in diabetic patients. Lucentis reduces retinal swelling by inhibiting "VEGF", a substance that causes leakage of fluid from retinal blood vessels. About 50% of patients with diabetic macular edema treated with Lucentis experience significant improvement of their vision.
Eylea: The Next Big Thing for Macular Degeneration
Eylea is the now available for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration. It is as effective as Lucentis but does not need to be injected as often. The standard interval between treatments with Eylea is two months, instead of one month for Lucentis and roughly six weeks for Avastin. Like Avastin and Lucentis, Eylea reduces "VEGF", a substance produced inside the eye that stimulates abnormal blood vessels to grow behind the retina, but it accomplishes this through a different mechanism.
Intraocular Telescopic Implant Brings Hope for Patients
This innovative device can improve vision in patients with age-related macular degeneration and other diseases that cause loss of central vision. It resembles the lens implant that is placed in the eye during cataract surgery, after the cataract is removed. Unlike a traditional lens implant, though, it is actually a tiny telescope. It works by enlarging images on the retina. The implant is placed in only one eye per patient, as the other eye is needed for side vision. Eligible patients must have visual loss in both eyes and good side vision in the eye that does not receive the implant. Patients who have already undergone cataract surgery in both eyes are ineligible for the implant.
CATT Compares Avastin and Lucentis: 2-year Results Reported
The Comparison of Age-related Macular Degeneration Treatments Trials have determined that there is no significant difference between the effectiveness of Avastin and Lucentis in the treatment of "wet" age-related macular degeneration. The 2-year results of this pivotal study, like the 1-year data, showed that Avastin and Lucentis produce equivalent results, improving vision significantly in about 40% of patients and stabilizing vision in about 90%.
AREDS2 To be Completed Soon
Patients and doctors alike are still wondering which vitamins and nutritional supplements will most effectively slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration. We have traditionally recommended the AREDS formula (beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc) which is based on the recommendations of the Age-related Eye Disease Study (AREDS). There are questions about whether beta carotene should be included in the formula, whether lutein and zeaxanthin (substances found in high concentrations in the macula) might be helpful and whether omega-3 fatty acids (often found in fish) could be helpful.
We should have answers to these questions once AREDS2 is completed, and our recommendations for vitamin supplements may change as a result of that major study. If your doctor has recommended lutein and eating fish on a regular basis, it is because there is some optimism that AREDS2 might prove that lutein and omega-3 fatty acids are helpful in slowing macular degeneration. An "AREDS2" vitamin formula is now on the market, although the results of the AREDS2 study have yet to be published. Patients often ask whether this AREDS2 formula is better than the original AREDS formula. We will not know this answer to this question until the results of AREDS2 are released.
Stem Cell Treatment Being Tested for Macular Degeneration
Stem cells may some day be helpful in the treatment of macular degeneration. Studies are getting underway to determine if it is safe to inject stem cells under the macula. If the treatment is determined to be safe, its ability to improve vision will then be assessed in additional trials.