New blood test offers hope to macular degeneration sufferers

Stirling Caldwell struggles to see the detail in his surroundings.

He has age-related macular degeneration, a problem that has worsened over the past 16 years.

Everything the 74-year-old sees is distorted, he no longer drives or uses a computer and he can barely read and struggles to do a crossword.

Macular Degeneration is the main cause of vision impairment in Australians.

But a doctor and team of researchers from the The Australian National University are developing a blood test based on a
group of biomarkers which are red flags for toxicity in the retina.

Speaking to Australia's Nine News, Dr Riccardo Natoli said that he and his team are trying to predict and find a diagnoses earlier.

And, while the new diagnostic approach is being investigated, the University’s spin-off company is testing drugs to treat the disease early, by targeting the inflammatory response.

They are hoping to start clinical trials of the groundbreaking medications in 12 months.

There is currently no cure for the disease, with only limited options for slowing it down such as sticking to a healthy diet which includes fruits and vegetables like berries and leafy greens.

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