Unfortunately, there are downsides to a lot of treatments for various diseases, such as price, frequency of doses, and discomfort. Any one of these factors can discourage people from receiving treatment. The current treatments for wet macular degeneration bring a lot of these downsides. More than half of the patients who use Medicare discontinue their treatment after the first year as they cannot pay, cannot find transportation to their specialist, are afraid of the treatment, or experience discomfort because of the treatment. Luckily, researchers have discovered ways to improve the way in which people with this disease receive treatment.
About Wet Macular Degeneration (wAMD)
Wet macular degeneration is one of two types of macular degeneration, with the other type being dry. WAMD always begins as dry macular degeneration, and then evolves into the wet form. About 10% of those who have one of these types have wAMD. It is characterized by blurred vision and blind spots, caused by abnormal blood vessels behind the eye that can leak into the part of the retina that is responsible for central vision, called the macula. Vision loss can also occur due to the buildup of fluid behind the eye, which leaks from the choroid. The cause of wAMD is unknown, but doctors do know that it develops from dAMD, which is believed to be the result of a mix of environmental and inherited factors. The symptoms of wAMD are visual distortions, reduced central vision, decreased intensity and brightness of colors, blurry or blind spots, and haziness of vision.
Because the macula is the part of the eye that is affected, the peripheral vision is rarely damaged, so total blindness is unusual. While the direct cause of wAMD is unknown, there are risk factors that healthcare professionals recommend people avoid. These factors include smoking and obesity. Those who have cardiovascular disease should also be aware that they are at a higher risk of wAMD. Family history can also have an affect on this disease, as there is a hereditary component. Age and race play parts as well, as it usually affects white people over the age of 50. Because there are risk factors, there are also steps that can be taken to prevent this disease, such as a healthy diet, avoiding smoking, managing other medical conditions, and exercising regularly. There are treatments available for wAMD, which are medications that can stop the growth of new blood cells. There are also other therapies, such as photodynamic, photocoagulation, and low vision rehabilitation.
Developments in Treatment
New treatments that have been proven to stop further vision loss and reverse some past damage have also been proven to be very expensive and invasive for patients. A new economic study conducted by the University of Southern California has found that there can be improvements made in the treatment in order to generate more money in patient benefits and societal value. These treatments, which entered the market in 2006, target the blood vessels behind the eyes. Called anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), this treatment has been proven to reverse the damage done to eyesight for multiple years.
As it was given through injections to the eye and was very costly, researchers considered methods in order to lower the number of injections needed and the price. In the study, multiple scenarios were modeled, such as no injections, less injections, more frequent injections, improved adherence, and innovation. They found that improving treatment adherence would not only positively impact the treatment process for patients, but it would generate more money for patient benefits and societal value.
Treatment for wAMD
While there are treatments available for wAMD and they are being improved, healthcare professionals stress the importance of lifestyle changes to prevent the disease and early detection to halt the progression of symptoms as early as possible.
Find the original article here.