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Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
Seniors' Health Channel
Reported April 4, 2013

Eye Drops Saving Vision


(Ivanhoe Newswire) – People with macular degeneration must deal with increasingly severe eye problems and eventually the disease can destroy their sight. Now researchers are saying something as simple as medicated eye drops may help save macular degeneration patients’ sight.
A central feature of age-related macular degeneration is an accumulation of cholesterol in the macrophages, a kind of white blood cell, which has been shown to cause the abnormal blood vessel growth characteristic of AMD. 
To discover why cholesterol builds up in the macrophages of AMD patients, researchers looked at macrophages from older mice and humans with AMD. Both the older mice and human AMD patients had low levels of the cholesterol transporter ABCA1. Without appropriate amounts of ABCA1, macrophages were unable to move cholesterol out of the eyes and could not prevent abnormal blood vessels from forming. 
Experimenting with two cholesterol regulators called Liver X Receptor and microRNAs-33, researchers found that both medications helped to move cholesterol out of the macrophages and reduce abnormal blood vessel growth in the eyes of older mice.  
“Our increased understanding of cholesterol's role in the growth of ocular blood vessels helped us identify therapeutically modifiable pathways, opening up avenues for new treatments that may help us prevent blindness caused by macular degeneration,” study author Rajendra Apte from Washington University School of Medicine was quoted as saying. 
Furthermore, the drugs can be administered via eye drops or injection. It is even hoped that delivering medications through eye drops will reduce the number of possible side effects.
Source: Cell Metabolism, April 2013
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