A global research trial involving a new treatment to tackle a condition which causes blindness has started – with the first patient recruited at the James Paget University Hospital.
The study aims to treat a condition called early stage dry age-related macular degeneration.
Macular degeneration is the most common cause of blindness in people aged over 60 in the western world and, for the dry form of the disease, there is currently no effective proven treatment.
The new treatment involves stimulating cells in the retina with light in a process called ‘photobiomodulation.’
The cells respond to light of certain wavelengths and are ‘reset’ by the treatment so they use energy more effectively. The hope is this will stop the cells dying prematurely.
Preliminary studies have shown encouraging results – and the JPUH is now involved in wider global research, being run by US company LumiThera.
It is being led locally by JPUH Clinical Director of Research and Development and Consultation Ophthalmology Professor Ben Burton, who is also a visiting professor at the University of East Anglia.
“I am delighted that we are able to offer some of our patients this very exciting new treatment,” said Prof Burton.
“To be the first centre in the world to be up-and-running with this trial speaks volumes about the hard work and organisation of my retinal trials team and the support of the hospital’s management board for research.”
Patient Peter Haynes from Lowestoft sat at LumiThera’s Valeda light delivery system equipment with Prof Burton (left) and members of his team at the James Paget.