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Posted at March 13, 2011 // Macular Degeneration Treatment
Not intending to be cheeky on the title of this article, but indeed there is a type of treatment in which the medication is poked into the patient's affected eyes. It may sound scary, but let us first see what it is all about.
The treatment by SonoEye is an Australian invention which replaces the need for patients to get monthly injections into the affected eyes for their macular degeneration. Having the disease is already causing a lot of uneasiness, more so since the regular treatments will require patients to have monthly injections into each affected eye to preserve their sight.
SonoEyes will soon be testing their product on humans, and their invention does away with needles, and replace them with waves of ultrasound instead. The SonoEye device will use waves of ultrasound which first separates the nedicine from the substance of a special gel, and push it through the surface of the eye. So far, laboratory tests have shown that the device is capable of delivering medication right to the inside of the eyeball.
Once the medication is pushed through the surface of the eye, the drug starts to circulate through the tiny blood vessels in the eye and reaches the retina at the back. This procedure is supposed to be painless and quick, and eliminates the infection risks and need for anaesthetic. Also, it totally eliminates the possibility of blood vessel haemorrhage or detachment of the retina which may be caused by injection, conditions which ultimately leads to loss of sight.
In Autralia, the National Health and Medical Research Council has granted a two-year $190,000 grant to Dr Harry Unger’s company, Seagull Technologies, to partner with the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) for further testing. A human trial is scheduled for year 2012 for a small number of age-related macular degeneration patients. If the trials are successful, the product will be available to patients 18 months later.
While the technology for this study focuses on the eye ball for treatment of age-related macular degeneration, Dr Unger said that it can also be applied to other parts of the body, in fact "anything with a mucus membrane that you can get to", he said. This will include the vagina, cervix, the urethra, and even the mouth.
The development of this technology is probably going to help one in every seven senior citizens in Australia, because that is the statistics for macular degeneration in the country. Will this technology be made available worldwide, or will other parts of the world take caution on the application of the technology for use in their own? Meanwhile, in another part of the world in Israel, another company has been set up with a bio-retina technology, which consists of a sophisticated microchip that is surgically inserted into the eye to replace the functions of the photoreceptors. This other technology is scheduled for clinical trials in 2013.
There will certainly be a lot for age related macular degeneration patients to look out for in the near future. However, the questions will always remain, will these new devices and techniques be affordable for the general public, or will it only cater to the handful wealthy? Right before these questions are to be answered, we will first need to see if the clinical and human tests are going to be successful.
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