Age-related macular degeneration is one of the main causes of blindness in the elderly, resulting in almost complete loss of vision in 90% of cases. Hope of salvation could be a - still experimental - eye implant from the United States.
12 years ago, the drug Lucentis was developed, which slows down the progression of the disease. However, there was a certain problem with its use: Lucentis was injected directly into the eye, for which patients had to visit an ophthalmologist every 6-8 weeks. The efficiency was about 50%.
With this in mind, biotech company Genentech (San Francisco) has developed a system for delivering the drug to the eye through a dedicated port. It is connected to a device that is slightly larger than a grain of rice. The device is permanently implanted into the eye and slowly releases the drug into the eye from an integrated reservoir. The reservoir is replenished through the aforementioned port, visible on the surface of the eye as a tiny dot.
The effectiveness of the implant was tested in a study involving 220 patients. The doctors stated that it was not lower than after the traditional injection, while the frequency of visits to the ophthalmologist was reduced to 1 time in 15 months to replenish the drug supply.
In general, even with some side effects, the system has proven to be quite safe. It will become generally available within two to three years.