Age-related macular degeneration is a chronic eye disease and is the leading cause of vision loss in Americans over the age of 60 – but a new 15-minute procedure – on trial in the U.K. could change all of that.
It involves an X-ray treatment, and according to a report in the Daily Mail, it could save the sight of thousands of people.
There are two types of age-related macular degeneration – wet and dry. Wet macular degeneration is the more severe kind and is characterized by swelling caused by leaking blood vessels that affect the macula, which is the center of the retina. It’s not known what causes this condition, but it almost always develops in people who have had the dry form of macular degeneration, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Currently, treatments for this eye disease are quite invasive and involve a series of injections into the eye, as frequent as every four weeks, for the remainder of the patients life. But this new procedure, called iRay, only involves a patient sitting in front of the machine while low-energy X-rays are “beamed” back into the back of their eye. As a result the “beams” close the blood vessels that cause loss of the vision. It’s an in-office procedure that last about 15 to 20 minutes.
iRay, which is a product of the U.S. firm Oraya Therapeutics, is currently being tested at London’s King College Hospital.
“This is an exciting new technology that targets one of the most common causes of blindness in the U.K.,” Dr. Tim Jackson, who is leading the trial, said. “If the initial results are borne out in these important larger studies then a majority of patients will have something to look forward to – an easily administered, one-off treatment that maintains or improves vision, and fewer injections into their eye.”
It’s estimated that 25 to 30 million people worldwide are affected by age-related macular degeneration.
In the U.S., the device has not yet received FDA approval.