Wet macular degeneration is an eye disease that can lead to central vision loss. However, there are treatments to help slow vision loss, including injectable medications and laser surgery.

Wet macular degeneration, or wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is a serious eye disease that may lead to blurring or a complete loss of central vision.

Wet AMD occurs when atypical blood vessels grow behind the retina in the eye. The atypical blood vessels start to leak blood and other fluids that damage the macula. The macula is a part of the retina that is responsible for sharp central vision.

Wet AMD can progress very quickly, especially if a person does not receive treatment. There are several effective treatments available for wet AMD that may slow or stop a complete loss of central vision.

In this article, we will discuss the current treatments available for wet AMD and explore others that are still in the clinical trial phase.

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The most common treatment for wet AMD is anti-VEGF injections. These are medications that a doctor will inject directly into the eye, after applying numbing medicine to make it more comfortable.

Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a protein that the body produces. Too much VEGF can lead to the growth and leakage of atypical blood vessels, which are the cause of wet AMD.

Anti-VEGF injections can block VEGF proteins and stop any further damage. A person may also see some improvement in their vision.

There are several types of anti-VEGF injections, including:

  • Ranibizumab (Lucentis): This was the first type of anti-VEGF injection to receive a license for the treatment of wet AMD. A person will typically need to repeat treatment every 4 weeks.
  • Aflibercept (Eylea): A person may need to repeat treatment every 8 weeks.
  • Brolucizumab (Beovu): A person may need to repeat treatment every 12 weeks. If the treatment is successful, a person may be able to have more time between treatments.

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is another form of treatment for wet AMD.

PDT is a type of laser therapy that uses verteporfin, a light-sensitive medication to break down the atypical blood vessels behind the eye. After administering verteporfin, a doctor activates the drug by shining a laser light into the eye to seal leaky blood vessels.

PDT can include:

  • administering a shot of the medication, verteporfin, into the arm
  • applying numbing medication to the eye to relieve discomfort
  • placing a special type of contact lens onto the eye to guide the laser
  • aiming the laser onto the atypical blood vessels to break them down
  • potentially repeating the treatment if a doctor recommends

Clinical human trials are currently taking place on gene therapy for the treatment of wet AMD. These new therapies aim to encourage the cells in the eye to make their own type of protein that will be able to block VEGF proteins. Therefore, the eye should be able to heal itself without the need for anti-VEGF injections.

Researchers believe that a person may only need one gene therapy injection for the eye to make the protein-fighting cells. This may mean that a person no longer needs to have anti-VEGF injections every few weeks or months.

There are two types of gene therapies scientists are testing during clinical trials that are showing promise for treating wet AMD: RGX-314 and ADVM-022.

Research is still ongoing, and scientists are continuing to learn from and build on the discoveries from the first gene therapy trials in the 1990s.

Antibodies are proteins that stick to antigens in the body. Antigens can be any toxins or foreign substances that the body wants to get rid of. The antibodies attach themselves to the antigens, which the immune system then destroys.

Scientists can design and make multiple copies of antibodies to target specific antigens. These are known as monoclonal antibodies.

There is now a type of monoclonal antibody that received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in 2022 for the treatment of wet AMD. This is faricimab-svoa (Vabysmo), which works by blocking VEGF and angiopoietin-2 (Ang-2) proteins, both of which can lead to wet AMD.

Studies suggest that faricimab-svoa may be longer lasting than other anti-VEGF treatments. A person may not need to receive an injection of faricimab-svoa for up to 16 weeks. However, it is still a relatively new medication for wet AMD, so the evidence is minimal at this stage.

In October 2021, the FDA gave approval for the Susvimo implant in the treatment of wet AMD. The Susvimo implant is a refillable ocular device that continuously sends anti-VEGF medications into the eye.

The Susvimo implant is approximately the size of a grain of rice. A surgeon will first administer a local anesthetic and mild sedative. Then, they will insert the implant directly into the eye, underneath the eyelid.

Studies from the clinical trial phase suggest the Susvimo implant may only need refilling twice per year.

However, in October 2022, Genentech announced a recall of the implant.

Wet macular degeneration, or wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is an eye disease that can progress quickly and may lead to blurring and loss of central vision.

Wet AMD occurs when atypical blood vessels grow behind the eye and leak blood or fluids that damage the macula. The macula is a part of the eye responsible for sharp, central vision.

There are several treatments available for wet AMD, including eye injections, laser therapy, gene therapies, and more. There is ongoing research and clinical trials to improve treatment for wet AMD and reduce the amount of regular treatments a person needs.