Reducing macular scarring to avoid vision loss is the aim of a new Griffith University study led by Dr Audra Shadforth from the School of Environment and Science.
“Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in Australia with one in seven Australians over the age of 50 showing early signs of AMD,” said Dr Shadforth, who was one of three recepients awarded a research grant as part of the Macular Disease Foundation Australia’s Research Grants Program on World Sight Day (October 9).
“The macula is responsible for our sharp central vision, the vision we use for reading, driving, and recognising faces. The eventual scar that forms in this region is the defining cause of major visual impairment in AMD.”
Dr Shadforth said although anti-VEGF therapies (medicines injected into the eye on a regular basis to control abnormal blood vessel growth) had proven valuable in halting vascular symptoms experienced by some AMD patients, nearly half of eyes receiving these treatments will continue to develop blinding scars within two years.
“This scar tissue distorts the macula leading to further reductions in vision.
“As there are currently no treatments available to reduce or prevent the scar tissue from forming, our project will investigate the cells and mechanisms responsible for scar tissue formation under the macula, using emergent technologies and important clues from studies on human tissues capable of regenerative healing.”
“This study aims to inform the development of new, sustainable treatments for AMD patients.”
Dr Shadforth is working with researchers from the Queensland University of Technology, the University of Queensland and the Queensland Eye Institute on the three-year study funded by the Macular Disease Foundation Australia (MDFA).