Help with common form of vision loss

An experimental drug reduces eye damage in people with a common form of vision loss for which there is currently no available treatment, a new study finds.

The new research sought to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD) , the leading cause of vision loss in industrialized countries, according to the World Health Organization. The disease damages the macula, a tiny spot near the center of the retina , the light-sensitive part of the eye. The result is blurriness or a loss of vision straight ahead in a person’s field of view, which can have a devastating impact on many daily activities, such as reading, driving or recognizing faces.

The new study included 129 participants ages 60 to 89 in the United States and Germany. All of the participants had a particular type of AMD called geographic atrophyAMD, or ” dry AMD .” In the 18-month trial, the participants who were given monthly injections of a drug called lampalizumab had a 20 percent reduction, on average, in the size of the area of the retina that is affected by the disease, compared with the control group that was given a placebo injection.

One group of patients in particular benefited from the drug, experiencing a 44 percent drop in the size of the area affected by the disease. A genetic analysis of these patients revealed that they shared a certain genetic mutation , according to the study, which was funded by the company Genentech.