The Institut de la Màcula, in collaboration with the Barcelona Macula Foundation, is developing a clinical trial program to investigate Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). The Director of the Institut, specialist in macula, retina and vitreous, Dr. Jordi Monés, explains what AMD is and the progress made with the trials carried out so far.
Definition and causes of AMD
AMD is an ophthalmological disease characterized by progressive degenerative lesions of the macula, responsible for the finest vision. Until recently, the wet or exudative form was the main cause of blindness among those over 50 years of age. This age group is a time when people want to be contemplative and the pathology greatly affects their daily lives.
Lifestyle can worsen genetic predispositions to develop the disease. For this, we can carry out preventive actions to avoid aggravating this condition. Smoking is the first risk factor and smokers are much more likely to develop the disease. Continuous exposure to sunlight could also have an impact and, finally, poor eating habits and being overweight contribute to worsen AMD.
Clinical trials and participation
The main aim of the clinical trials being carried out by the Institut de la Màcula is to find a treatment to halt the unstoppable progression of the dry or atrophic variant of the disease and to improve the results in patients with wet or exudative AMD. In the pre-clinical phase, solutions are being sought to recover or regenerate the retina that has disappeared or been destroyed. Dr. Jordi Monés believes that “only with research and clinical trials will we be able to find a cure in the future”.
The main benefit for the patient to participate in clinical trials is the access to the most innovative treatments with personalized and cutting-edge medical care by the Institut’s medical experts and professionals. Moreover, for the moment, this is the only way to access new drugs that are not available to the rest of the population. The trials are conducted according to strict ethical and scientific principles, applying all international and national standards and policies to protect the rights, safety and well-being of the participants.
Advances in AMD
Thanks to the latest clinical trials, very relevant advances have been achieved. Dr. Jordi Monés, who began investigating AMD in 1991 at Harvard, recalls that “we were totally helpless because we could do almost nothing. We could only apply laser treatments and they were very ineffective. Now, however, over the years, the techniques have improved a lot. We have advanced to another dimension, previously unknown, but there is still a long way to go.”