Joshua Mali, MD: Evolution of Care for Macular Degeneration


Medical Director of the Macular Degeneration Association discusses how the evolution of anti-VEGF treatments has changed the landscape of AMD care and the lives of patients.

Sometimes lost in the shuffle of constantly advancing medical science, is the perspective of just how much treatment for some conditions has evolved in relatively short windows of time.

Decades ago, a diagnosis of wet age-related macular degeneration (wAMD) was almost a guarantee that a patient would eventually go blind from the disease. Yet since the mid-2000s, the development and optimization of anti-VEGF therapies has allowed millions of patients have to preserve their vision when in the past they were not given such an opportunity.

Joshua Mali, MD, medical director of the Macular Degeneration Association, sat down with MD Magazine® at the 2019 American Society of Retina Specialists Annual Meeting to discuss the evolution of AMD care and what it has meant for patients.

MD Mag: How has treatment for dry and wet age-related macular degeneration evolved over time?

Mali: I mean, it's been a huge transformation. I mean, more than about 15 years ago we really didn't have a great treatment for it and, then, subsequently with the approval of anti-VEGF medications, there really, really has been a big boom in treatment for this disease and it has really taking patients that were essentially going blind from this disease and able to not only preserve vision but actually improve vision and it's been, really, a disease-changing treatment for a whole bunch of patients.

So, wet AMD affects a lot of people in this country, about 3 million Americans have advanced visual loss from what AMD and actually that number will double by 2050. So that's about 6 million. So, really, these are millions and millions of people across our country that have severe visual loss from this disease — the fact that we have great eye injections available to treat it has been very, very encouraging and very, very inspiring for patients. That, like I said, more than 15 years ago we didn't have any great treatments for, but now we’re blessed to live in a time where we have these great anti-VEGF medications to treat this disease.

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