The wet form of macular degeneration represents about 10 percent of the overall disease prevalence. Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of irreversible, severe vision loss in people 50 years of age and older. Two new studies show a therapy known as pegaptanib (Macugen) is an effective treatment for age-related, "wet" macular degeneration.
The trials were conducted at 117 centers in the United States, Canada, Europe, Israel, Australia and South America and a total of 1,208 patients were involved in the study. The participants received either 0.3 milligrams of pegaptanib, 1.0 milligrams of pegaptanib, 3.0 milligrams of pegaptanib, or a placebo.
Researchers observed a significant difference in patients who received the pegaptanib as early as six weeks after the treatment was given. The maximum benefit was observed after 54 weeks of treatment. Pegaptanib also reduced the chance of the loss of 15 letters or more of visual acuity, which is considered a moderate loss. It also reduced the chance of the loss of 30 letters or more (six lines on the eye chart), which is considered a severe loss.
Thus researchers say treatment with pegaptanib reduced the risk of progression to legal blindness in the study, promoted stability of vision, and in a small percentage of patients, resulted in more visual improvement at week 54 than among those receiving sham injections.