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New Treatments Hold Hope for Failing Eyes
Date:9/27/2009

n of ophthalmology and director of the Eye Institute at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich. Those treatments also provide a 20 to 30 percent chance of significant vision improvement over the same period.

No effective treatments have been found for the dry form of macular degeneration, which causes less catastrophic vision loss but accounts for 85 percent of all macular degeneration cases, according to the U.S. National Eye Institute. The dry form occurs when the light-sensitive cells in the macula begin to slowly break down.

New advances in the treatment of the wet form involve further research into vitamin combinations that can help slow the progress of macular degeneration, Parke said. An ongoing trial is looking into whether diet or supplements can better improve a person's chances of retaining clear vision late in life.

"Around the world, there are culturally different rates of progression," Parke said. "The question becomes, how much of this is dietary?"

Research also has focused on the two drugs currently used to target VEGF, with a head-to-head study now looking into which of the two is more effective. "It's a very important trial, and I think all involved are looking forward to seeing if these drugs have a lot of differences," Parke said.

Other anti-VEGF drugs are in the pipeline, Williams said, and studies are testing ways to combine anti-VEGF medications with radiation or laser therapy to produce better results.

Cutting-edge research also may have found another way to tackle the wet form of macular degeneration. In the June 14 issue of Nature, doctors reported that blocking the activity of a specific protein can reduce the same blood vessel growth that leads to the wet form.

"We now have the opportunity to develop drugs that target this protein that may be safer and more effective than our current treatments," Parke said.

As far as the dry form of macular degen
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