Current AMD Treatments (FDA has Approved Marketing of these Therapies)
AREDS formulation — The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) — a landmark investigation conducted by the National Eye Institute (NEI) — determined that antioxidant supplementation can slow the progression of AMD. The AREDS formulation is an over-the-counter antioxidant supplement recommended for people who are at risk of developing more advanced forms of either dry or wet AMD.
The AREDS formulation includes the antioxidants beta carotene, vitamin E, and vitamin C, as well as the nutrients zinc and copper. The AREDS formulation contains specific amounts and forms of antioxidants nutrients; do not try to substitute multivitamins or dietary nutrients for the AREDS formulation.
The NEI is initiating a second AREDS study later in 2006 to evaluate the potential benefits of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin and the omega-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). For more information on the second AREDS study, visit www.areds2.org.
Lucentis™ (ranibizumab) — The FDA approved Lucentis in June 2006 for the treatment of wet AMD. Developed by Genentech, Lucentis has shown to be effective in reducing the risk of losing vision from abnormal blood vessel growth under the retina. A two-year study showed that 95 percent of people with wet AMD who received monthly injections of Lucentis experienced no significant loss in visual acuity. Genentech also reported moderate visual improvement in 24.8 percent of participants treated with a 0.3 mg dose of Lucentis and 33.8 percent of participants treated with a 0.5 mg dose.
A colorectal-cancer drug named Avastin® — a drug similar to Lucentis — has been used “off-label” by some ophthalmologists to treat wet AMD. A few small clinical studies of short duration (e.g., three months) have shown Avastin to be safe and effective. However, investigators note that further study of Avastin is needed to better determine its safety and efficacy.
Macugen® (pegaptanib) — The FDA approved Macugen in December 2004 for the treatment of wet AMD. Macugen has shown to be effective in reducing the risk of vision loss in people with wet AMD by inhibiting the growth of abnormal blood vessels under the retina. Typically, Macugen is administered every six weeks through an injection into the eye. Macugen is distributed by OSI Pharmaceuticals and Pfizer. In clinical studies, approximately 70 percent of patients treated with Macugen experienced no significant vision loss.
Visudyne® (verteporfin) Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) — Visudyne PDT involves the use of a light-activated drug that targets and destroys the blood vessels that cause vision loss in wet AMD. In this treatment, Visudyne is injected intravenously. When the drug reaches the eye, a low-intensity laser is directed to the region of blood vessel growth, activating the drug, which destroys the unhealthy vessels. PDT treatments are usually repeated, and may be performed in combination with other treatments such as Macugen or Lucentis. The FDA approved marketing of Visudyne in 2000.