Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in people over 60 and results from damage to the macula, the part of the eye responsible for central vision and seeing fine details clearly, with most cases occurring as part of the ageing process.<sup>1,2</sup>
Jayashree Sahni, Translational Medicine Leader at Roche Pharma Research and Early Development (pRED), shares her insights on the disease, current treatment options and why more still needs to be done to address the unmet medical need associated with AMD.
The vast majority of patients with AMD have an early stage of the disease which may lead to the loss of some form of central vision over time. However, approximately 10% of people develop the advanced form of the disease known as neovascular AMD (nAMD, also called wet AMD), which can result in sudden and severe central vision loss and accounts for approximately 90% of all AMD-related blindness.2 With nAMD making up the majority of people who experience serious vision loss in AMD, research efforts have focused on developing treatments for this stage of the disease.
Neovascular AMD begins when new and abnormal blood vessels grow uncontrollably under the macula, through a process called angiogenesis. The blood vessels leak blood or fluid in the macula and form scars that cause central vision to deteriorate.3 Women tend to be at greater risk than men, and Caucasians are more likely to lose vision from AMD than African-American and Asian populations. Smoking, obesity and family history could also put a person at risk of AMD.4
In the first instance it is really important that people have their eyes checked regularly. Currently there is no treatment for early stage AMD. A combination of antioxidant vitamins A, C, E and zinc, lifestyle changes such as stopping smoking and eating a healthy diet, may help reduce the risk of vision loss.4
Treatments are available for nAMD and it is imperative to consult an ophthalmologist urgently, if any deterioration in vision is noticed.
Our research focus in ophthalmology encompasses AMD, diabetic macular edema, diabetic retinopathy, geographic atrophy and beyond. At Roche pRED, we believe that exploring, understanding and addressing the biology that underpins a specific disease is crucial in being able to deliver medical solutions for patients.
I joined Roche because I saw there was a real commitment to develop medicines for eye diseases that cause significant visual loss and impairment to patients worldwide.
Pennington KL, DeAngelis MM. Epidemiology of age-related macular degeneration (AMD): associations with cardiovascular disease phenotypes and lipid factors. Eye and Vision. 2016; 3:34.
Bright Focus Foundation. Age-Related Macular Degeneration: Facts & Figures. [Internet; cited 2018 October].
Kellogg Eye Center. AMD. [Internet; cited October 2018].
National Eye Institute. Facts About Age-Related Macular Degeneration. [Internet; cited October 2018]. Available from: