Understanding GA in Advanced Dry AMD: Causes, Implications, and Promising Treatment Options

understanding geographic atrophy

AMD can be challenging, but with the help of the team at South Carolina Retina Institute, we aim to provide you with therapeutic treatment options to help prevent or slow down vision loss.

The first FDA approved drug is now available for treatment of this condition.

In February of 2023, the FDA approved SYFOVRE™ (pegcetacoplan injection), the first ever intravitreal injection to treat GA. This treatment has shown promise in improving outcomes in this previously untreatable disease as it is meant to help regulate an overactivated part of the immune system in the patient’s eye, because this overactivation can contribute to the progression of GA.

While GA cannot be cured, and any damage from lesion growth cannot be reversed, SCRI is currently offering treatment to high risk individuals who are acutely threatened by this disease process.

Researchers are also actively studying new treatments for geographic atrophy – including drugs that target the immune system and gene therapy. Additionally, low vision aids and assistive devices can help to improve the quality of life for people with GA by making it easier for them to perform daily tasks and activities.

Advanced dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is characterized by the presence of Geographic Atrophy (GA), which results in the progressive loss of tissue in the macula, the central region of the retina responsible for acute central vision. Geographic atrophy manifests as a gradual deterioration of healthy tissue and light-sensitive cells in the macula, leading to an irreversible decline in central vision. The affected macula exhibits irregular or “geographic” regions of cellular loss. As the disease advances, these areas may expand, coalesce, and progressively enlarge over time, exacerbating the patient’s central vision impairment.

Individuals suffering from this condition encounter significant difficulties in performing tasks that require precise vision, such as reading, facial recognition, television viewing, and driving. In the end stage of geographic atrophy, a substantial permanent blind spot emerges in the central visual field. However, peripheral vision is typically retained in cases of geographic atrophy, affording individuals some functional vision outside the central area.

The prognosis of geographic atrophy hinges upon several factors, including the size and location of the atrophic regions, the extent of visual impairment, and individual variations. Generally, geographic atrophy evolves gradually over time, resulting in a progressive loss of central vision. The rate of progression can vary considerably among individuals, with some experiencing a more rapid deterioration compared to others.

It is noteworthy that the AREDS report number 26 reveals that 50% of individuals with geographic atrophy experienced a loss of driving vision within a span of 2.5 years. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) and AREDS2 represent substantial clinical trials sponsored by the National Eye Institute, serving as valuable sources of information and guidance in this field.

Please schedule an appointment for a consultation with a South Carolina Retina Institute retina specialist to learn more.