Retina specialists still searching for more effective AMD therapies

December 15, 2004

The excitement in retina during the past year has been about the promise of the development of more effective treatments for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). However, the excitement has been mixed with a measure of disappointment surrounding the therapies in the pipeline but tempered by the possibility of combination therapies that warrant exploration and tweaking.

Among other developments, various technologies and procedures have been refined, making diagnosis of retinal diseases and surgery easier. These include optical coherence tomography (OCT), the latest generation of which produces impressive details of the retinal microstructures on the scans, and fiberoptic endoscopy, which may become valuable for visualization in difficult vitrectomy cases. In addition, development of sustained-release delivery systems may facilitate easier treatment of retinal diseases.

AMD The evaluations of three major therapies that are in trials represent a purely pharmacologic approach to the treatment of wet AMD.

Mark Hughes, MD, echoed that sentiment and heralded combination therapy as the wave of the future.

"We were expecting something better from pegaptanib sodium. However, it is a big step forward. This pharmacologic therapy, in addition to a photoenhancing approach, means that we are developing a more sophisticated understanding of treatment of the AMD disease process," said Dr. Hughes, who is a member of Ophthalmic Consultants of Boston, and senior surgeon, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard Medical School, Boston.