Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a progressive eye disease affecting 600,000 people in the UK. Its sufferers include Oscar-winning actress Dame Judi Dench.
Now a team at Trinity College, Dublin, have developed a revolutionary treatment. Jabs provide a boost of energy to mitochondria, the “powerhouses” in all cells, including tissue at the back of the eye that turns light into sight signals for the brain.
The scientists say their therapy benefited the most common form of AMD, the “dry” version, which occurs when cells in the macula responsible for vision die. Lead researcher Prof Jane Farrar said: “We hope this approach will be a game changer… in this disease for which there are currently no therapies.”
Dame Judi, 87, was diagnosed with the condition in 2012 and said: “You find a way of just getting about and getting over the things that you find very difficult, I’ve had to find another way of learning lines… which is having great friends of mine repeat them to me over and over and over again.”
She said her mother had similar sight loss “and now Finty, my daughter, goes and has her eyes checked. It is intensely irritating”.
Dr Sophia Millington-Ward, another researcher, said: “Although there is further work to be done… the results give us hope we are getting closer to a solution.” The research is published in the journal Clinical and Translational Medicine.