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Treating Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration

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What’s New in Treating Wet AMD?

Medically Reviewed By Leela Raju, MD

Wet macular degeneration is a form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and one of the most common vision loss causes in older adults. However, new treatments may help slow or stop vision loss progression.

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AMD is a progressive eye disease that affects the macula — the very center of the retina, which is the light-sensing group of cells in the back of the eye. Wet AMD is a late stage form of AMD. Symptoms of wet AMD can include:

  • blurry, dark, or blank spots in the vision’s center, with clear vision to the sides
  • colors looking dull and less bright
  • straight lines looking wavy or crooked
  • difficulty seeing clearly in low lighting

Doctors can treat Trusted Source National Eye Institute Governmental authority Go to source  wet AMD with monthly eye injections or photodynamic therapy, which combines eye injections and laser treatment.

These treatments changed the outlook for many people with AMD who faced blindness. The search for additional Wet AMD treatments is ongoing, and it may lead to helping more people manage the condition.

Longer lasting anti-VEGF injections

The vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a protein that helps new blood vessels grow. In wet AMD, atypical new blood vessels grow and damage the macula. Anti-VEGF drugs help block this process. 

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Anti-VEGF drugs work well, but doctors need to inject them about every 1 or 2 months. However, in 2022, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved faricimab (Vabysmo), a long lasting anti-VEGF injection that lets many people go 2–3 months between injections.

New injectable drugs

Treating wet AMD with two drugs with different targets may improve vision better than an anti-VEGF drug alone. This is exactly what scientists are studying with an experimental drug called sozinibercept.

This drug also works on the VEGF proteins but differently from standard anti-VEGF drugs. Combining them may have better effects that last longer than anti-VEGF drugs alone. Sozinibercept is in the late research stages and may be available soon.

Gene therapy

Currently, gene therapy is still experimental. No gene therapies have FDA approval to treat wet AMD yet. However, the idea is promising, and researchers are studying at least two gene therapy drugs.

The goal of gene therapy for wet AMD is to make the eye produce its own anti-VEGF treatment. The treatment would involve delivering a gene into the eye. The gene makes a protein that blocks VEGF. 

The hope is that it can be a one-time treatment for wet AMD. 

Eye drops

Topical treatments for wet AMD are another future possibility. So far, no eye drops or other topical treatments have FDA approval to treat wet AMD due to the drug molecules’ sizes. The molecules have been too big to absorb into the eye when you give the drugs as an eye drop.

Oral tablets

Like topical treatments, scientists have been studying drugs that you can take by mouth to treat wet AMD. Currently, none have received FDA approval. However, the search for this radical step forward in treatment continues. 

Takeaway

Many new treatments for wet AMD are a few years away. However, talking with your doctor now is the first step to finding the right treatment. Consider asking your doctor about clinical trials if you want to participate in wet AMD research.

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  1. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD). (2021). https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/age-related-macular-degeneration
  2. Arepalli S, et al. (2021). Pipeline therapies for neovascular age related macular degeneration. https://journalretinavitreous.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40942-021-00325-5
  3. Medeiros S, et al. (2023). New treatments for age-related macular degeneration. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/promising-new-treatments-amd
  4. Prevalence of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). (n.d.). https://preventblindness.org/amd-prevalence-vehss/
  5. Sozinibercept. (n.d.). https://drugs.ncats.io/substance/C42QTP3IMX
  6. SUSVIMOTM (ranibizumab injection) for intravitreal use via SUSVIMO ocular implant. (2022). https://www.gene.com/download/pdf/susvimo_prescribing.pdf
  7. VABYSMO (faricimab-svoa) injection, for intravitreal use. (2023). https://www.gene.com/download/pdf/vabysmo_prescribing.pdf

Medical Reviewer: Leela Raju, MD
Last Review Date: 2023 Oct 17
View All Treating Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration Articles
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