Eye drops may help treat AMD

Age-related macular (AMD) degeneration makes independent living difficult for many seniors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of people 40 and older with AMD is expected to reach 2.95 million by 2020. While some view this visual impairment as an inevitable part of growing older, experts say that certain eye drops may be an effective treatment option.

Published in the journal Cell Metabolism, the findings come from researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and suggest that a drug commonly used to treat high cholesterol could reduce the impact of AMD. The study was focused on macrophages, which are cells that remove fats and cholesterol from cells and tissue. However, as people get older they tend to malfunction, and as a result, a buildup of lipids behind the retina and the formation of new vessels can cause AMD. The new findings present a unique pathway to treat problems with vision.

"We were able to deliver the drug, called an LXR agonist, in eye drops," said first author Dr. Abdoulaye Sene. "And we found that we could reverse the macular degeneration in the eye of an old mouse. That's exciting because if we could use eye drops to deliver drugs that fight macular degeneration, we could focus therapy only on the eyes, and we likely could limit the side effects of drugs taken orally."

While researchers need to perform follow-up studies to confirm these exciting results, the findings underscore the belief that you're not powerless against AMD and other common conditions. In fact, previous research has suggested that what you eat could have an impact on AMD. Experts say that following a heart-healthy diet, one that includes leafy green vegetables and fish, is the best route.