Sufferers of Wet Macular Degeneration Have Hope

FDA Approves New Therapy

ROCKVILLE, MD-A therapy which slows vision loss of people with "wet" age-related macular degeneration (AMD) has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). AMD, a retinal disease that is the major cause of blindness in people over 60 years old, is caused by the growth of abnormal leaky blood vessels, which damage the macula. The macula is the eye area responsible for the central field of vision as opposed to peripheral vision. If not treated, people with AMD can become functionally blind within two years. Though the FDA approved therapy, marketed as Visudyne therapy, does not stop or cure AMD, it slows the degenerating process. The therapy is a two-step process. First, an injection of Visudyne is injected into the patient's arm. Second, a laser light is shined into the patient's eye for 90 seconds. The laser activates the drug affecting the blood vessels and slowing the leak of fluid.

Visudyne therapy will be manufactured by QLT PhotoTherapeutics Inc. and marketed by CIBA Vision Corporation, the eye care unit of Novartis AG.