Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is a medical condition that affect older adults over the age of 50, and results in a characteristic loss of vision in the centre of the field of view, caused by damage to the retina. AMD can occur in two forms dry and wet. Dry AMD results in the aging process of the retinal pigment layer below the retina, which causes vision loss through the loss of the rods and cones, or photoreceptors in the central part of the eye. At the moment there is no medical or surgical treatment available to correct this condition. Wet AMD is caused by the abnormal growth of blood vessels leading to blood and protein leakage below the centre of the visual field or macula.

Over 200,00 Americans suffer from wet AMD. Wet AMD can be treated, but procedures can be long, risk infection and unpleasant. This may change thanks to a major breakthrough by a group of scientists at Johns Hopkins University.

Until now patients with Wet AMD have had to endure several injections to the eye, and whilst the new discovery wont stop entirely the need for these injections it may reduce the number quite considerably.

The new two layered drug delivery system is based on a short piece of protein that blocks the unwanted growth of the blood vessels below the macula. The secret to the success of the drug lies in the gradual rather than immediate release of the protein. The release was slowed by covering the drug with a nontoxic biodegradable coating which breaks down only slowly in the watery environment of the eye, thus releasing the protein over an extended time.

Initial tests are proving encouraging, further tests are currently planned before clinical trials begin.