Fight for Sight has announced funding for scientists at Queen’s University Belfast who hope to boost the capacity for damaged tiny blood vessels in the back of the eye to repair themselves – helping prevent or slow down sight loss for patients with age-related macular degeneration.

There are two types of late-stage AMD. One is called ‘wet’ AMD where abnormal blood vessels start to grow underneath the retina – there are injections available that can reverse this. The other more common form is called geographic atrophy (also called ‘dry AMD’) where there is a gradual breakdown of light-sensing cells and supporting tissues within regions of the retina.

The team is investigating the role of a network of fine blood vessels that underlie the retina in the development of the most common late-stage form of AMD.

The researchers have recently discovered that problems with the mechanisms that repair damage to these tiny blood vessels as we age may contribute to the development of this form of AMD – and so they are now investigating this in more detail.

Fight for Sight say that they are “delighted to announce funding for this project,” continuing, “what better time than at the start of Macular Week 2019.  Age related macular degeneration can have a huge impact on people’s lives.

“This research means patients could benefit from exciting new treatments that repair damage to eye blood vessels, preventing their disease from progressing to later stages and helping to preserve their sight.”

People with the early stages of AMD will usually have few symptoms – but those with later stages will experience severe sight loss that hugely affects their quality of life.

AMD is the leading cause of blindness in the UK. An estimated 600,000 people are currently living with the condition, and this number is set to more than double to 1.3 million by 2050.