A New Mirconeedle For Wet Macular Degeneration

A New Mirconeedle For Wet Macular Degeneration

Posted on Oct.15, 2012, under Innovations for Visually Impaired

In the last couple of years there has been several new medications that have become available for those who have the wet form of macular degeneration. Drugs such as Macugen, Lucentis, Avastin and now Eylea all belong to a class of drugs called anti-VEGF drugs or anti-angiogenesis drugs. The use of anti-VEGF therapy has become standard therapy for the treatment of wet macular degeneration (AMD). Angiogenesis is the formation of new blood vessels. Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) is a hormone that is produced by cells that are deprived of oxygen. Anti-VEGF medications work by blocking or preventing the growth of new, leaky, capillaries that cause the macula to raise which results in distorted vision.

However, for anti-VEGF medications to work they need to get to the area where the fragile
blood vessels are located – the back of the eye. Which is why retina doctors have to give the drug through an intra-ocular injection, an injection right into the eye. Not only does the injection have to be given into the eye, it needs to be done repeatedly. There are different schedules for different patients but the injections can be given as frequently as once a month. Patients’ reaction to the eye injections vary. While some patients find it to be a little more than an annoyance, other patients experience severe pain that may last for most of the day.

A New Mirconeedle For Wet Macular Degeneration

A new technology is being developed right in my hometown of Atlanta. A collaboration between Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory Eye Center is leading two researchers into developing a way to deliver drugs to the back of the eye more efficiently and more effectively. Dr. Mark Prausnitz, Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology and Dr. Henry Edelhauser, a drug delivery expert at Emory Eye Center are working on a new needle called a mirconeedle. Currently anti-VEGF drugs are given using a hypodermic needle. “For comparison, the microneedle is about as long as a regular hypodermic needle is wide. It enables us to reach not just the eye in general, but specific places in the eye – exactly where the medication needs to be, “ states Dr. Prausnitz. The microneedle is shorter and much less invasive, yet it can reach the suprachoroidal space which lies between the sclera and the choroid. Dr. Edelhauser explains, “We found that the fluorescent particles had spread throughout the suprachoroidal space. Since that space expands when filled with liquid, it makes an ideal pipeline where fluid can move to the back of the eye, toward the macula. “

Find out about other new developments in the treatment of wet macular degeneration by going to:

Wet Macular Degeneration Clinical Trials

Leslie Degner, RN, BSN

Better Health for Better Vision