A global research trial involving a new treatment to tackle early stage dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which causes blindness, has been launched.

The first patient has been recruited in the Eastern region at the James Paget University Hospital in Norfolk.

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, with the aim of stopping the cells from dying prematurely.

The study is being supported by the NIHR, and led locally by JPUH Clinical Director of Research, 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 Professor 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.”

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.

Dry AMD accounts for approximately 80% to 90% of all AMD cases and wet AMD accounts for approximately 90% of all AMD cases involving severe central vision loss.