Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in the developed world. A chronic eye disease, it is caused by damage to the eye’s macula and can result in vision loss in the central field of vision, including blurred central vision or a blind spot.
What is the Retina?
The retina is the light-sensitive film at the back of the eye, which is responsible for vision. It converts light images from the eye’s optical system into electrical impulses that are processed and sent along the optic nerve to the brain. The retina is comprised of two main layers. The inner layer, referred to as rods and cones, reacts to light and sends electrical signals to the brain. The outer layer, called the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), is a layer of cells situated behind the rods and cones. These cells provide nutrients from to the rods and cones, and also act as a filter to the retina.
What is the Macula?
The macula is a small but vital area of the retina, densely packed with rods and cones. It is responsible for your central, detailed vision; that is, your ability to read, distinguish faces, drive a car and any other activities which require fine vision. AMD occurs when the cells in the macula degenerate, caused by a partial breakdown of the RPE.
Types of AMD
When AMD occurs it is categorized into dry or wet forms:
- The most common form, Dry AMD, is associated with changes that lead to atrophic cell death of the central retina or macula, which is essential for the fine vision used for activities like reading and driving. Dry AMD occurs early in the disease process and accounts for approximately 85% of all cases of AMD.
- The late stage of the disease, Wet AMD, is caused by the growth of abnormal blood vessels under the macula (known as choroidal neovascularization, or CNV). These abnormal blood vessels are of poor quality and leak fluid and blood, causing scar tissue that destroys the central retina. Over time this causes significant, progressive deterioration of vision and usually results in legal blindness within 1-2 years.
In order to prevent AMD, it is important to maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet and to exercise regularly. Limit your intake of fats, eat fish two to three times a week and consume dark green leafy vegetables and fresh fruit daily. It is also beneficial to consume low glycemic index (GI) carbohydrates.
The list below includes some of the factors that may put you at higher risk for AMD.
- Age: AMD is primarily age-related and disproportionately affects people over the age of 60.
- Family History: If you have a family history of AMD you have a 50 percent chance of developing the disease.
- Smoking: If you smoke you are three times more likely to develop AMD.
- Low levels of zinc and vitamins A, C, and E
- Cardiovascular Disease: if you have a history of high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, or heart disease with chest pain
- Race: AMD is more common among white people
Retinal Rejuvenation Therapy (2RT®) represents one of the latest advancements in the treatment of retinal disease.
A non-thermal, laser-based therapy, 2RT® applies nanosecond pulses of laser energy through a proprietary beam profile to stimulate a natural, biological healing response in the eye to preserve and/or improve macular appearance and function, thereby reducing disease progression. This breakthrough treatment approach retains the therapeutic benefit of laser-based therapy while eliminating the thermal tissue damage inherent in conventional retinal photocoagulation treatment.
2RT® has a CE Mark (Conformité Européenne) and is included on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) for the indication of early AMD, where it can produce bilateral improvements in macular appearance and function. It also has a CE Mark (Conformité Européenne) and US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (510k) market release for the treatment of Clinically Significant Macula Edema (CSME).