Overview of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the number one cause of vision loss for people over the age of 65. It is a common retinal disease that disrupts the central vision that is necessary for everyday tasks such as reading, writing, and driving. Macular Degeneration occurs when there is a loss of visual cells (rods and cones) from the macula, the central part of the retina.

The prevalence of AMD is climbing at an alarming rate as our elderly continue to increase in number and live longer lives. There are currently 18 million individuals affected by wet AMD with effective treatment currently available for only the 5% with late stage wet AMD. One of the key factors for slowing down the progression of the disease is early intervention, which requires early detection of AMD or early detection of changes in disease status. There is also a need for better and more effective treatments for the wet form of the disease and currently no treatments for the dry form of the disease.

How We Are Researching AMD

Macular Function Lab is developing sophisticated technology, such as the shape discrimination test, that can be used routinely by patients or clinicians to help detect early signs of AMD or disease status changes.

Rose Silverthorne Retinal Degenerations Lab is working on clinical trials for macular degeneration and Stargardt’s disease. They also coordinate genetic testing for families with macular degeneration and provide genetic counseling free of charge.

The Clinical Center of Innovation for Age-Related Macular Degeneration, in collaboration with SMU’s Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering, aims to rapidly prototype both diagnostic and treatment technologies from a patient-centered perspective.

Molecular Ophthalmology Lab uses the latest technologies in laboratory techniques to find new ways to diagnose and treat patients with age-related macular degeneration.


Identification of the Responsible Cell Type for AMD

We are studying the cell type that is responsible for macular degeneration in the laboratory.  We are making a model of the disease in a test tube and then will use this model to screen drugs that may have a therapeutic effect on the disease.

Search for a Genetic Link to Wet AMD

The wet form of age-related macular degeneration causes a dramatic reduction in vision. The current available treatment is an injection in the eye which is painful and needs to be administered indefinitely. We are studying the blood of patients that have wet AMD and are looking at levels of particular gene markers in their cells in hopes of discovering who will get this form of macular degeneration and more importantly how to possibly cure this disease.

Search for a Genetic Link to Dry AMD

We are one of the few clinics in the U.S. that are using advanced tools to measure non-invasively the function of the retina with the goal to determine which patients will have the highest risk of developing more advanced dry age-related macular degeneration.  We combine this approach with a complete genetic analysis of patients to understand how genetic mutations carried in families increase the risk of those family members to develop macular degeneration.  In addition we are using these tools to screen agents that may slow down the progression of dry age-related macular degeneration.

Non-Invasive Drug Delivery to Treat Dry AMD

We are improving the use of a drug delivery device to successfully treat dry age-related macular degeneration.  This device will be place in a non-invasive fashion on the surface of the eye completely hidden from view. The device has the potential to deliver drugs for months to years.  We are screening the ability of this device to deliver therapeutic agents.

iPad App for AMD and Diabetic Retinopathy Patients

Our iPad app to monitor the progression of vision loss for patients with macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy has been FDA approved and has received its second FDA clearance for its new service, the Physician Portal. The app and server allow doctors to detect early vision changes and tailor  treatment to best fit the needs of the patient.

Trial to Slow Visual Loss in Dry AMD

The Rose-Silverthorne Retinal Degenerations Lab is currently working on a multi-center randomized trial evaluating Visual Cycle Modulators (VCM) with dry AMD.  The goal is to slow visual loss in AMD by decreasing the activity of rods.

Clinical Center of Innovation for AMD

The Retina Foundation of the Southwest is working collaboratively with the Lyle School of Engineering at SMU to research age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and discover new diagnostics and treatments for wet and dry AMD. The Clinical Center of Innovation for Age-Related Macular Degeneration is supported by an initial $2.5 million grant from the W. W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation at the Communities Foundation of Texas, and needs additional support from forward-thinking donors and investors. The Center uses a novel, patient-centered approach to medical research. Because AMD is a progressive eye disease that affects patients at different rates, the Center is focused on exploring and developing individualized treatment for patients who are in different stages of AMD.

Click Here to Visit Clinical Center of Innovation for AMD Website

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