An important new study on the use of the 2RT laser in treating earlier stages of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is “interesting and promising”, the Macular Disease Foundation Australia (MDFA) said today.
The MDFA, through advice from its Medical Committee, said further research is needed before the 2RT laser, developed by the Adelaide-based Ellex Medical Lasers, could be considered a standard treatment.
“At this stage, until further studies into the long-term efficiacy and safety are available, the MDFA only recommends use of the 2RT laser within a well-conducted clinical trial setting,” CEO Dee Hopkins said.
The results of the Laser Intervention in Early stages of Age-related macular Degeneration (LEAD) trial of the 2RT laser – just published in the journal Ophthalmology – showed encouraging outcomes in reducing progression to late stage AMD in carefully selected patients.
Macular disease is the number one cause of blindness and severe vision loss in Australia. AMD – the most common macular disease – affects central vision and one in seven Australians over the age of 50 have some evidence of AMD. There is no cure.
The results of the LEAD study are important because it is the first time in more than 20 years of AMD laser research, that laser intervention has successfully addressed AMD disease progression. Presenting the results, Principal Investigator of the LEAD trial and Head of Macular Research at CERA, Professor Robyn Guymer has said a replication trial is needed.
She is quoted as saying that with careful patient selection, the 2RT laser shows promise in “substantially reducing the rate of progression to the late, vision-threatening stages of this devastating disease”.
MDFA Medical Committee Chair Associate Professor Alex Hunyor said the 2RT laser used ultra short laser bursts to cause changes in the outer pigment layer of the retina, and slow down the degenerative process.
A/Prof Hunyor said it was important to note that the LEAD trial results showed potential for benefits in very carefully selected patients with earlier stage AMD, and was not suitable for a large number of AMD cases, including those where vision loss had already occurred. The study did not include people with very early AMD, or no signs of AMD.
“Anyone seeking treatment would need careful ophthalmological review, and until the results are validated in another trial, we would suggest the treatment only be conducted in a clinical trial setting,” A/Prof Hunyor said.
Anyone wishing to participate in clinical trials can indicate their interest by contacting the Foundation on 1800 111 709, or by registering through the CERA website.
Photo Credit: The Centre for Eye Research Australia and the University of Melbourne.