This existing drug may help treat blinding eye disease in older people

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In a recent study published in the American Journal of Medicine, researchers found that treating patients with an advanced form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) with levodopa could stabilize and improve their vision.

Levodopa is a safe and readily available drug commonly used to treat Parkinson’s disease.

The drug reduced the number of treatments necessary to maintain vision, and as such, will potentially reduce the burden of treating the disease, financially and otherwise.

The research was from the University of Arizona and one author is Robert W. Snyder, MD, Ph.D.

More than 15% of the US population over the age of 70 has AMD, a common cause of blindness in developed nations.

Previous research found that patients being treated with levodopa for movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease were much less likely to develop any type of AMD.

In the study, the team tested whether levodopa improves visual acuity and the anatomical changes caused by AMD.

They tested 20 patients newly diagnosed with AMD. They were given a small daily dose of levodopa for one month and were evaluated weekly by their referring retina specialist.

In the second part of the study, the patients who completed the first part and the second group of 14 patients who had received AMD treatment for at least three months before the study received escalating doses of levodopa to test the tolerance and efficacy of the drug.

The findings showed that levodopa is safe, well-tolerated, and delayed AMD injection therapy while improving visual outcomes.

In the first month, retinal fluid decreased by 29%.

After six months, the decrease in the retinal fluid was sustained and mean visual acuity improved enabling patients in the first and second group to read an additional line on the eye chart. Side effects were limited.

The team says that levodopa may be unlikely as a standalone treatment in patients with newly diagnosed AMD.

However, they required fewer than the standard monthly treatments, and in the second group, monthly injections decreased by 52%.

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