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Researching Risks and Restoration for Geographic Atrophy

  • Research News
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John Whyte, MD, MPH and Stacy Haller.
BrightFocus President and CEO Stacy Pagos Haller spoke with WebMD's Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Whyte as part of its "Champions for Change" series.

Geographic atrophy is an advanced and severe stage of dry age-related macular degeneration that causes central vision loss. It currently has no cure. But there is hopeful research being conducted that may change that—including 58 current groundbreaking projects funded by Macular Degeneration Research, a BrightFocus Foundation program. 

BrightFocus President and CEO Stacy Pagos Haller recently spoke with WebMD's Chief Medical Officer John Whyte, MD, MPH, as part of its “Champions for Change” series to discuss the progress being made to advance the understanding of geographic atrophy, which affects around 1 million people in the U.S.  

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Haller shared some of the cutting-edge research being done to help people with geographic atrophy. For example, Macular Degeneration Research is funding projects using artificial intelligence and big data to identify who is most at risk of developing age-related macular degeneration. Scientists are also seeking to restore vision lost to macular degeneration using adult stem cells.  

“Restoring vision is a huge step forward because it brings us that much closer to preventing the disease,” she said.  

Haller also discussed the importance of clinical trials for people living with diseases like geographic atrophy.  

“The benefits of being part of a clinical trial are threefold. First, you get access to cutting-edge treatments for the disease. Second, there is usually no cost associated. And third, even if the outcome is not achieved that they hope for, you’re helping scientists understand more and push the research further, faster. There’s nothing more important than for all of us to do our part to help accelerate research,” she said. 

    Explore current research funded by BrightFocus Foundation’s Macular Degeneration Research program to better understand, treat, and cure geographic atrophy: 

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