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New drug for age-related eye disease undergoes clinical studies

A new drug to treat vitreomacular adhesion has shown promising results in two clinical studies which are being published in today's New England Journal of Medicine. Vitreomacular adhesion (VMA) is a condition where the vitreous adheres abnormally strongly to the retina, which leads to visual problems and possibly blindness. This condition can eventually lead to holes in the macula. Presently, the treatment option for macular holes is a surgical procedure called vitrectomy. The new drug, ocriplasmin, is injected into the eye. In the studies which involved 652 patients, about 25% of the patients experienced an improvement in their visual acuity after receiving the injection compared to slightly more than 10% of study participants who received a placebo. Side effects were noted in the study and they included vitreous floaters, bleeding, flashes of light or injection-related eye pain but the side effects seemed to be temporary. Researchers are hopeful that ocriplasmin will become a viable alternative to the more invasive vitrectomy.

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