Macular Degeneration

AMD: Will Discovery Bring Cure for Blindness?


February 7, 2011

Macular Degeneration: Will Discovery Bring Cure for Blindness?

By David W Freeman

(CBS) There's still no cure for macular degeneration, an incurable eye disease that is the leading cause of blindness among older people.

Is that about to change?

Scientists at the University of Kentucky have made a key discovery regarding the abnormal deposits that cause the condition - and are already testing ways to block the formation of these yellow deposits, which are called "drusen."

The scientists, led by Dr. Jayakrishna Ambati, associate professor of ophthalmology at the university, found that people with "dry" macular degeneration are more likely to progress to the potentially blinding "wet" form when their drusen contain certain chemical components known as C3 and C5.

By screening patients for C3 and C5, doctors might be able to determine whose vision is at risk. And if researchers can find a way to keep C3 and C5 from forming in the first place, they may be able to halt the progression of macular degeneration.

And guess what: Ambati's lab is already testing such substances. Human trials of these substances could start by the end of the year, the Telegraph reported.

Age is a leading risk factor for macular degeneration, along with smoking and obesity. The condition is more common among women and those with a family history of the disease.

Dr. Ambati's findings were published on Feb. 6 in "Nature" online.