(Berlin, Germany; November 15, 2011) An international group of fifteen expert ophthalmologists have been convened in Berlin, Germany by the nonprofit Angiogenesis Foundation to share key perspectives and discuss strategies for improving the advocacy, treatment, and vision outcomes for ‘wet’ form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the most common form of blindness over the age of 50 in developed nations. Regions of the world represented by the expert include Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America. Retinal specialists Professor Francesco Bandello (Italy), Dr. Gemmy Cheung (Singapore), and Dr. Stephan Michels (Switzerland) were among the leaders who participated and made high-level presentations.
According to the Angiogenesis Foundation, age-related macular degeneration affects approximately 30 million people worldwide, and in 10-15% of cases, abnormal new blood vessels develop beneath the macula in the eye, leaking blood and fluid that causes severe vision impairment. These cases of wet AMD require regular injections of medications that prevent the destructive growth of new blood vessels, a process called angiogenesis. The Angiogenesis Foundation is undertaking a global campaign to improve awareness and understanding of wet AMD and its treatments, emphasizing the importance of early diagnosis, prompt treatment, and continuing effective therapy in order to prevent blindness and maintain a good quality of life for people affected by wet AMD. The International Expert Summit is intended to achieve consensus on issues related to the campaign, and identify key issues, challenges, and solutions related to the treatment of AMD using a treatment approach known as antiangiogenesis. Wet AMD is a chronic disease requiring lifetime treatment.
“Wet AMD is a silent epidemic of the aging global population,” commented Dr. William Li, president of the Angiogenesis Foundation. “Helping the elderly preserve their vision through the effective use of antiangiogenic treatments is an important way to ensure a high quality of life.”
At the International Expert Summit, the specialists in wet AMD treatment discussed the desired future state for treating this condition and identified key obstacles that must be overcome, ranging from translational research to improved research allocation within health systems to the development of therapies with a longer duration of benefit. Global issues related to access to care, regional cultural considerations, impact on family, and the need for early diagnosis and effective chronic disease management were discussed.
Based on the International Summit, the Angiogenesis Foundation intends to issue a White Paper describing the issues and making specific recommendations aimed at informing national health services, the clinical and research community, and patient advocates for wet AMD.
The Angiogenesis Foundation (www.angio.org) is a U.S.-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve global health through treatments that control angiogenesis, the process used by the body to grow new blood vessels. Based in Cambridge- Massachusetts but with international programs, the Foundation is helping improve treatments for blindness, cancer, wound healing, and cardiovascular diseases, among other major blood vessel-dependent conditions.