The First Treatment for Geographic Atrophy Is Now Available
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a groundbreaking medical breakthrough for people with geographic atrophy (GA). Historically, there was no treatment for GA, one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide. Syfovre™ (pegcetacoplan injection) is the first and only treatment for this degenerative retinal condition.
What Is Geographic Atrophy?
Geographic atrophy is a condition that sometimes develops in the late stages of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The condition involves the formation and growth of lesions that slowly attack retinal tissue and small blood vessels that supply the photoreceptors (i.e., cells that convert light into signals sent to the brain) with oxygen.
With dry AMD, one distinguishing feature is the development of drusen – small, yellow deposits that accumulate under the retina. As drusen increase in number and size, it can impact the functionality of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), a part of the eye vital to the retina’s metabolic processes.
Drusen can cause the death of the retina’s light-sensitive cells. This can lead to blind spots in the central vision, robbing you of your ability to perform close-up activities like cooking and driving. Affecting one or both eyes, geographic atrophy generally takes about 2.5 years for lesions to start affecting central vision. Symptoms include:
- Problems seeing in low light.
- Colors appear dull or washed out.
- Reduced visual acuity.
- Scotomas (blind spots in or near the central vision field).
- Permanent vision loss.
Why FDA Approval Is So Momentous
GA is estimated to affect the vision of more than one million Americans. Syfovre was shown to slow the growth of geographic atrophy lesions. Even more impressive, these beneficial effects were found to increase over time.
Another benefit for patients and physicians is flexible dosing, meaning that it can be administered every 25-60 days. The safety and efficacy of Syfovre were demonstrated in two far-reaching, 24-month clinical trials known as the OAKS and DERBY studies. The most significant benefit discovered in the study was a 36% reduction in lesion growth.
How Does Syfovre Work?
Syfovre is given as an intraocular (within the eye) injection, administered into the vitreous cavity of the eye. Syfovre works by focusing on a protein in a part of the immune system called the complement pathway.
In less than 5% of patients, among the most common adverse reactions were eye floaters development, discomfort, hemorrhage (excessive bleeding), and neovascular (also called wet or exudative) AMD.
It should be noted that Syfovre does not treat early-stage, dry AMD. In addition, Syfovre does not entirely stop the progression of geographic atrophy.
Eligibility for GA Treatment
Syfovre’s FDA approval may represent dramatic vision improvements for people with GA. If you want to learn whether you are eligible for this medication and live in Long Island, Queens, Westchester, or elsewhere in NY, contact us at Vitreoretinal Consultants to schedule an appointment today.