NEW laser-based technology to painlessly intervene in early stage, age-related blindness will be launched in Barcelona next month.
The new technology was created and is being developed by South Australian company Ellex, a world leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing of a line of lasers used by ophthalmologists to treat eye diseases.
One in seven people over the age of 50 suffer from age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in Australia, across the globe the cost of treating the disease is estimated to be more than $5 billion annually.
People with AMD suffer from a degeneration of the cell structures in the retina, creating black spots in their vision and eventually total blindness.
Current treatments for the condition include regular injections into the eye which require the patient to return every six weeks for further injections.
The new machine – the 2RT - uses a laser pulse lasting three nanoseconds, which is less than a billionth of a second, targeting the macular at the back of the eye.
Managing director of Ellex, Tom Spurling said a finely tuned laser fires an incredibly short burst of light that agitates the structures in the eye to trigger a natural, cellular-level healing response.
“The agitation of the cells prompts the body to regenerate and provide new cells to the macular area which appears, in the work we have done so far, to give rise to an increase of visionary health and acuity for the patient.
“Surprisingly we also found that an intervention in one eye can prompt the body to heal both eyes.
Spurling said this dual healing effect has also attracted scientific interest.
He said, like with many body ailments, the earlier the condition is identified and treated the better the end result will be.
The machine will be officially launched at the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons Congress in Spain in September, but several of the machines are already being used in Germany, Holland, France, Italy, New Zealand and France.
“It has been a long, detailed process to reach this stage,” Spurling said.
“We began our clinical trials in March this year with 290 patients and we will run the trial for three years, closely monitoring, analysing and recording the results.”
“This success is the result of an incredible amount of research and development, bringing together engineers, business people and speaking to doctors around the world.”