New Weapon Against Macular Degeneration

New Weapon Against Macular Degeneration

In the war against pathological blindness, researchers have recently unveiled the first test results of a new potential treatment to combat macular degeneration. It is called Corneal Photovitrification (CPV) and some are touting it be a major game changer in the AMD (age-related macular degeneration) treatment industry. 

One study of CPV published in F1000 Research concluded that, 

“…this pilot study indicates that the CPV corneal laser procedure is safe and efficacious for vision improvement in patients with late stage dry AMD.  The CPV Tx mechanism of action involves retinal irradiance distribution modifications that may stimulate patient use of functional, rather than atrophied, retinal regions.”

Currently being administered in Canada, CPV is gaining traction in USA testing labs and could soon be helping millions of Americans to see once again.

Attacking Both Forms

Macular degeneration is a complex disease that has not been targeted by any curable treatment to date. It presents in two forms of sight degeneration. Johns Hopkins Medicine describes the two types of macular degeneration: 

Dry – This type is the most common. About 80% of those with AMD have the dry form. Its exact cause is unknown, although both genetic and environmental factors are thought to play a role. This happens as the light-sensitive cells in the macula slowly break down, generally one eye at a time. The loss of vision in this condition is usually slow and gradual.

Wet – Though this type is less common, it usually leads to more severe vision loss in patients than dry AMD. It is the most common cause of severe loss of vision. Wet AMD happens when abnormal blood vessels start to grow beneath the retina. They leak fluid and blood – hence the name wet AMD – and can create a large blind spot in the center of the visual field.

In preliminary US studies and current Canadian patient distribution, CPV has shown to help improver or even restore sight in those afflicted with either dry or wet macular degeneration. This alone shows great promise as there are no other procedures that can cover treatment for both afflictions simultaneously as well as able to be applied to early or late-stage AMD. CPV is a simple change in direction of each image reflected on the retina through laser manipulation.

Improved Vision

Corneal Photovitrification is tracking improved vision for hundreds of patients and most are reporting an immediate beneficial response. The American Macular Degeneration Foundation (AMDF) Breakthrough Award was recently awarded to Corneal Photovitrification. President and Founder of AMDF, Chip Goehring, commented on this new, pioneering procedure,  

“The American Macular Degeneration Foundation is highly selective with our Breakthrough Awards,…This development [CPV] holds the potential to dramatically change the lives of so many people – and it’s already treating patients in Canada. We felt investing in its success, on behalf of the macular degeneration and low vision communities, was essential.”

The AMDF describes Corneal Photovitrification as follows:

“The [CPV] procedure, which takes only seconds, uses a low energy laser to minimally alter the shape of the cornea, bending light rays differently and relocating them to an area just outside of an AMD patient’s damaged macula. There, functioning retinal cells capture and transmit images to the brain. Patients report instantly improved sight, and the brain continues to adapt to this new information source, allowing vision to improve in subsequent years, in many cases. There have been no adverse reactions, complications, or patient reports of discomfort during or following the procedure.”

Canada’s leading private funder of vision research, Fighting Blindness Canada, reported on CPV stating that, 

“Published international results have demonstrated significant improvements in both near and distance visual acuity at one month, six months and twelve months after the procedure in patients who satisfied screening criteria and had low vision between 20/80 to 20/400. There is a growing body of evidence that the treatment is effective for patients living with dry AMD.”

With these kind of reported results the outlook for CPV to be used in America is highly likely. For those who are eligible, and it will be a large spectrum, the hope on the horizon is palpable. In addition, this CPV technique may assist on several other platforms as well. 

A Multi-Use Treatment Therapy

The technology of CPV treatments could enhance vision for those using sight enhancing tools as well as other challenges within the macula itself. The AMDF reported on the specifics of how CPV may be applied to assistive devices such as:

  • Magnifiers
  • Digital contact lenses
  • Head-mounted technology 
  • Telescopic devices

In addition, CPV shows promise in vision restoration for those afflicted with specific macula compromises including:

  • Macular holes
  • Unsuccessfully repaired macular holes
  • Patients struggling with reduced central vision caused by scars accumulated on the macula

For late-stage AMD, there is very little doctors can do other than slow inevitable degeneration which will eventually result in blindness. However, CPV could change that by offering vision improvement for late-stage AMD. Although this would be a minimal correction, it is better than no correction at all. 

Michael Berry II, one of the lead investigators and CEO of the Optimal Acuity Corporation which supports CPV treatment, commented on how the benefits of CPV for late-stage AMD outweigh the current situation for so many, 

“In reality the image shift may lead to slightly lower visual acuity than that of a healthy macula, because there are fewer cone photoreceptors in the new region,..But when the patient has late AMD, the benefits of these image shifts outweigh any comparison to that lost central vision.”

The application of corneal photovitrification is the next step in the tip of the iceberg research being done to combat AMD. With a grim prediction of the entire globe doubling in AMD diagnoses within the next several decades, this is the kind of technology that will help science leap to the next platform until these and other debilitating diseases are eradicated from the human condition. CPV is the new weapon against macular degeneration and it looks like it’s going to be full of ammunition to keep the disease on its heels.