Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide and affects nearly 30% of people over the age of 75 to some degree. The macula is responsible for our center vision, allowing us to see fine details, and is the area we use to read or look at someone’s face. When this area degenerates, it becomes more difficult for people to identify objects in this central portion of their vision. Macular degeneration is commonly referred to as “dry” or “wet”, each with their own features, risks, and treatment options.
Dry AMD, meaning without fluid, is more common than wet, which includes leakage and swelling of the macula. Dry AMD usually starts slowly and progresses over time. As the dry form progresses, it will either convert to wet, or begin to cause thinning of the macula. This thinning is known as atrophy. As the macula atrophies, function in those specific areas decreases to the point of no vision. This can cause dead spots in our center vision. Fortunately, the eyes are able to work together to help fill in those gaps, but as the disease progresses it causes larger more widespread change, commonly referred to as “geographic atrophy” (GA). Historically, the only recommended therapy for dry AMD was UV protection and a well- balanced diet supplemented with AREDS 2 vitamins. This year, a new medication for the treatment of geographic atrophy caused by dry AMD was introduced to the market.
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Syfovre (pegcetacoplan injection) is a medication injected directly into the eye. In clinical studies, Syfovre was shown to slow the rate of geographic lesion growth by up to 22% when used monthly and 18% when used every other month. It is important to note that GA cannot be reversed, but slowing the growth can help patients maintain their best vision for longer. Side effects of Syfovre are similar to other intraocular (into the eye) injections including eye irritation, specks floating in one’s vision, and redness at the injection site.
Syfovre is not FDA approved for the treatment of early changes associated with dry AMD. It is specifically approved for the later stages that qualify as geographic atrophy. Not all eye doctors can or will perform eye injections. Syfovre must be administered by an ophthalmologist, and usually will be performed by a retina specialist. If you are interested in learning more about Syfovre, talk to your doctor.