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Saving sight. Changing lives.

Nanosecond laser trial

The Centre for Eye Research Australia is conducting a world first randomised controlled trial of a new laser treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

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What does this trial hope to achieve?

AMD is a progressive condition that can lead to vision loss and blindness. Currently there is no specific treatment available for early AMD.

This trial aims to demonstrate the ability of a novel laser treatment to slow or partially reverse the progression of AMD, before vision is lost.

What is nanosecond laser treatment?

The treatment will involve the use of a laser device – known as retinal regeneration or 2RT laser therapy – to deliver a controlled nanosecond dose of laser energy into the eye. The laser has been designed by the South Australian-based ophthalmic company, Ellex.

In applying the laser to the affected eye, researchers aim to eliminate the yellow deposits, known as ‘drusen’ that are present in the retinal tissue of AMD patients. It’s hoped the elimination of drusen from the retina will reverse the degenerative processes caused by AMD.

What are results of the pilot study?

The interim 12-month results from the trial of 24 high-risk patients with early AMD have shown that the laser can improve the function of a patient’s retina.

After 12 months, around two-thirds of patients experienced sustained improvement in their visual function in the treated eye, with the majority of patients also noting an improvement in their untreated eye.

A patient’s visual function typically improved in the area of the eye that had the most damage. It’s this damage that typically leads to complications of AMD and subsequently, severe vision loss. In addition, the treatment appears to be safe, with research showing no evidence of laser damage to photoreceptor cells.

Who can participate in the multi-centre randomised control trial?

Patients with early yet high risk AMD in both eyes may be eligible to participate. The trial is conducted at two sites – Sydney and Melbourne and participants will be recruited from Victorian and NSW ophthalmology clinics. Interested patients should contact their eye care professional for a referral. Referrals can be addressed to:

Kate Brassington
Centre for Eye Research Australia
Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital
Level 1, 32 Gisborne Street
East Melbourne 3002
Centre for Eye Research Australia
P: 03 9929 8362
E: cera-info@unimelb.edu.au

What can trial participants expect?

Only patients with early AMD who have not experienced vision loss are able to participate in this trial. For full exclusion criteria, please visit the Clinical Trials page.

What is AMD?

AMD is a degenerative condition affecting the central area of the retina called the macula. The macula is a small area at the back of the eye which is responsible for fine and reading vision. There are two forms of AMD, known as ‘wet’ and ‘dry’. Dry AMD, the more common of the two, is characterised by gradual loss of vision. Wet AMD can lead to rapid and severe vision loss.

AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in Australia. Fifteen per cent of people over 50, or half a million Australians, live with early AMD. The prevalence of this disease increases exponentially with each decade of life and almost a quarter of people over 90 are vision impaired as a result of AMD.

Who is CERA collaborating with on this project?

The trial is being conducted by CERA researchers in partnership with Ellex and the University of Melbourne. The study will be conducted at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital (Melbourne) and Marsden Eye Specialists (Sydney).

How is the trial being funded?

The trial is supported by funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and a Bupa Health Foundation Award.

How can I help?

You can support macular research at CERA by making a donation or volunteering for this research trial.