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Laser eye treatment could prevent blindness

A new technique developed by the surgeon who pioneered laser eye surgery could prevent millions of older people from going blind.

The short pulse laser technique, which can delay the onset of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), has been unveiled by Professor John Marshall, a senior ophthalmologist at King’s College, London.

In a process Professor Marshall calls ‘retinal rejuvenation’, the treatment has been found to delay the effect of ageing without causing damage to other cells.

A clinical trial involving more than 100 diabetics found that the technique led to improvements in sight. It works by stimulating enzymes to remove waste material from a thin membrane behind the retina, called Bruch’s membrane.

Professor Marshall is now to take his research further, by carrying out a new trial to treat patients already suffering from AMD in one eye with the aim of saving the sight in their better eye for as long as possible.

Once people have advanced AMD in one eye, he said, studies show that the condition usually develops in the second eye in between 18 months and three years.

‘If you can delay the onset by three, four, six, seven or 10 years, it’s proof of the principle,’ he added.

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