London: A new treatment for the “wet” version of age related macular degeneration (AMD) in the form of a painless injection into the eye is available for the first time in the UK.
AMD which attacks the macula, located at the back of the eye at the centre of the retina. The macula enables us to see directly what is in front of us and pick out fine detail. It helps us with everything from reading and driving to recognising faces and seeing colour.
In the early stages of AMD central vision may be blurred or distorted, with objects looking an unusual size or shape and straight lines appearing wavy or fuzzy. Those suffering from the condition may see lights, shapes and colours that are not actually there.
Laurence Whitefield, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at Capio Eye in London’s Harley Street explains: AMD is the most common cause of poor sight among people over the age of 60 in the UK. It is unclear what causes AMD, but it becomes more likely as a person ages as, with time, the delicate cells of the macula become damaged and worn out.
There are two forms of AMD a less severe dry form, and the rapidly degenerating wet AMD which develops quickly as fragile blood vessels grow behind the retina often leak fluid and blood. This results in scarring and rapid sight loss.
There two breakthrough treatments for wet AMD are known by the brand names Avastin or Lucentis and have been shown to stabilise sight in 95% patients suffering from wet AMD and improve sight in one third. Neither of these treatments are generally available through the UK’s state health service, the NHS.
Mr Whitefield says: “In the US ophthalmologists who specialise in retinal disease have been using Avastin(r) for some months to treat patients with wet or neovascular form AMD. Results have shown that the treatment controls the abnormal blood vessels in AMD, increasing vision. Lucentis is a very exciting development because it can be used to treat all types of AMD.
“Thousands of people a year in the UK get wet AMD leading to rapidly sight loss. This treatment provides patients with a way of recovering their sight. Even patients well below the threshold for registration as blind have been shown to benefit from the treatment”.
Both Avastin and Lucentis treatments consist of three injections into the eye that stop the development of leaky blood vessels that trigger AMD.
Further injections are sometimes necessary, depending on a patient’s progress. The procedure is painless and patients do not need to wear eye pads. The treatment works on patients suffering recent deterioration of vision and is not suitable for those who are already blind or who have established scarring of the retina.
The new drugs are known as anti-VEGF drugs and work by targeting VEGF (Vascular endothelial growth factor), a protein that helps the formation of new blood vessels. In the case of AMD these new blood vessels are unstable and tend to leak fluid and blood under the retina. The resulting scarring then causes irreversible sight loss. The anti-VEGF drugs inhibit the growth of new blood vessels, thereby minimising the risk of scarring.
The costs of the procedure are £500 for the initial consultation with the surgeon and the diagnostic tests to determine whether the treatment is appropriate, then £650 for the first treatment injection and £550 for subsequent treatments. Patients will need the first treatment and then usually at least two more. The speed of results vary by patient.
Contact information: Capio Eye is a private hospital based in London’s Harley Street which offers the very best in eye care, refractive and cataract surgery. www.capioeye.co.uk”>
Please contact us for more information or to make an appointment.
Free phone : 0800 – 169 20 20
Telephone : + 44 (0)20 703 410 30
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Address : Capio Eye London
114a Harley Street
London W1G 7EL