Phase III Light Treatment Improves Macular Degeneration

Phase III Light Treatment Improves Macular Degeneration

Scores of studies have been conducted regarding the presentation, progression and overall mechanism of the blinding disease macular degeneration. Many studies have involved various pharmaceutical formulas applied to slow the growth of excessive blood vessels, reduce inflammation of surrounding tissue, or minimize plaque buildup to name a few contributing factors. However, the disease remains incurable with approximately eleven million plus Americans diagnosed and blinding millions per year. The CDC reports that the number is projected to double in the next twenty to thirty years making this a growing health concern.

Many researchers, labs and pharmaceutical companies are scrambling to come up with continuing medicines and procedures to address macular degeneration. However, more and more people are looking for natural solutions. In addition to adhering to a healthier lifestyle, light therapy aka photobiomodulation (PBM) is one natural choice that could be a game changer in macular degeneration treatment.

See the Light with PBM

Light therapy has been used for years, now often referred to as laser therapy which some may associate with heat and burning. Using PBM to treat macular degeneration presents no discomfort or pain to the patient.

Published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine, a study of photobiomodulation is described as,

“Photobiomodulation (PBM), also known as low-level laser therapy (LLLT), can induce cell proliferation [rapid increase] and enhance stem cell differentiation. Laser therapy is a non-invasive method that contributes to pain relief and reduces inflammation, parallel to the enhanced healing and tissue repair processes.”

More specifically, the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS) describes the PBM process in detail,

“In this therapy, a light source is placed near or in contact with the skin, allowing the light energy (photons) to penetrate tissue where it interacts with chromophores located in cells resulting in photophysical and photochemical changes that lead to alterations at the molecular, cellular and tissue levels of the body. Light induces a complex chain of physiological reactions in diseased and damaged tissues to accelerate wound healing and tissue regeneration, increase circulation, reduce acute inflammation, reduce acute and chronic pain and help restore normal cellular function. Interestingly, recent research indicates that light can enhance performance in normal tissues and cells.”

Researchers have recently completed a phase three clinical trial of photobiomodulation applied to the retina in people afflicted with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The results of this twenty-four month, double-masked, randomly assigned, multi-center clinical trial which was conducted at 10 leading US retinal centers showed some promising results.


The leading company in photobiomodulation for macular degeneration is called LumiThera, Inc.. This company has recently announced results from its third phase trial of PBM for dry AMD titled LIGHTSITE III. This trial treated AMD patients with PBM using what is called the Valeda Light Delivery System. This is the first approved treatment for dry AMD using photobiomodulation. As a result of this third and final phase trial, several beneficial responses occurred described here as reported by Ophthalmology Times:

  • Statistically significant improvement in the pre-specified primary endpoint in BCVA [baseline best corrected visual acuity] at 13 months in the PBM [photobiomodulation] treatment group over the sham-treatment group.
  • A sustained, mean increase in ETDRS letter score [an ETDRS letter score is when 20 or more letters are read correctly at 4.0 m] was seen at the 13-month time-point in PBM-treated subjects.
  • 55% of the subjects showed a >5 letter improvement on the standard EDTRS eye chart 
  • Anatomical measurements in PBM-treated subjects demonstrated no significant increase in drusen pathology at 13 months…Drusen deposition is the hallmark pathology for diagnosis of dry AMD which leads to chronic inflammation and is associated with disease progression and cell loss.

According to news release by Diana Do, MD, and Quan Dong Nguyen, MD, MSc, FARVO, both professors of ophthalmology and members of the Retina Division at the Byers Eye Institute at Stanford University, a clinical site for the LIGHTSITE III trial, it was stated that,

“Intermediate dry AMD patients have pathology and visual impairment consistent with earlier stages in the disease and have not lost retinal tissue by progressing to GA [geographic atrophy],…Thus there is an opportunity to improve their vision while retinal tissue is still viable. Therapy with PBM using the Valeda Light Delivery System may serve a significant unmet need for many of our patients with dry AMD who now have the potential to improve their visual acuity with treatment”

Safety & Health

When using light therapy such as lasers and photobiomodulation, safety is always a concern. However, the research of PBM has shown complete safety both currently and after several years of follow up studies.

Clark Tedford, PhD, president and CEO of LumiThera, commented,

“Our commercial and clinical trial experience has demonstrated an excellent safety and clinical benefit profile and we plan on submitting a PMA to the FDA for U.S. approval,”

In addition, the more you can adhere to a more healthy lifestyle, your risk of developing macular degeneration can be mitigated or avoided overall particularly when Americans alone continue to be diagnosed with diabetes a major accelerator of AMD.

The CDC reported that,

“This [AMD] number is predicted to more than double by 2050 to 8.96 million due to the increasing epidemics of diabetes and other chronic diseases and our rapidly aging U.S. population.”

Stick to more dark green leafy vegetables in your diet to maintain healthy vision. Add in carotenoids (the compounds that give fruits and vegetables color) which are also highly recommended to improve retinal strength. Eat more healthy and less processed foods, get plenty of rest, water, and exercise and you could stay ahead of the curve. This is essential because the stronger your retinal tissue can remain, the better chances you just may have at preventing AMD. 

If there is still viable retinal tissue available, this phase III light treatment improves macular degeneration and once approved could soon be a treatment for you or someone you love. It is one of the most hopeful natural procedures currently on the horizon and due to the phase III success status could be brought to the mainstream sooner than later.