Age-related macular degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration is a disease of the retina of the eye that leads to loss of central vision (German Ophthalmological Society, guideline no. 21). AMD is the most common cause of severe visual impairment and blindness above the age of 50 in all western countries. Currently, numerous research projects in ophthalmology are dealing with the still largely unknown causes for the development and progression of AMD. Two forms of AMD can be distinguished: the dry and the wet form. In the dry form of AMD, which accounts for about 80% of all cases, protein- and lipid-containing deposits (drusen) form under the retina, or areas of the retina atrophy. If new blood vessels form in the retina, the wet form of AMD develops.
Rheopheresis for AMD
Rheopheresis is an apheresis therapy approach to treat microcirculatory disorders. A microcirculatory disorder in the retina is assumed in AMD. Rheopheresis directly targets risk factors and pathophysiologically relevant factors of AMD: there is a pulse-like reduction in plasma viscosity, elimination of fibrinogen, cholesterol, von Willebrand factor, α-2-macroglobulin and possibly multimeric vitronectin.
Three controlled clinical trials in the USA and at the University Eye Clinics in Cologne and Frankfurt showed that the natural course of AMD with its progressive visual deterioration can be significantly improved by rheopheresis treatment (Brunner et al. 2000, Pulido et al. 2002 and 2005, Koss et al. 2009).