Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of irreversible blindness in New Zealand.

Unfortunately, there is no treatment available for geographic atrophy, an advanced form of AMD. Annexon, a US biotech company, has developed a new drug that might be effective at slowing the progression of geographic atrophy. The treatment is now being tested in a multicentre clinical trial across sites in the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

St George’s Eye Care, in collaboration with Christchurch-based New Zealand Clinical Research, has been selected as the lead centre in New Zealand for the trial, which is called the Archer study.

St George’s Eye Care ophthalmologist and retinal specialist, Dr Oliver Comyn, says it is an exciting opportunity for the clinic and its patients.

“The Archer study presents a great opportunity for patients in our region with advanced AMD to be involved in research into a possible future treatment.”

Just like current treatments for other types of AMD, the study drug is given by injection into the eye.

“This always sounds much worse than it is,” says Dr Comyn. “Most patients are surprised by how little they feel the injections and they really have become a mainstream part of treatment in the eye clinic.”

The St George’s Eye Care team will work with Christchurch-based retinal specialist Dr Ainsley Morris on the study. Dr Morris, who established Christchurch’s EyeAM ophthalmology clinic, will share this new treatment opportunity with her patients and help to assess results.

For more information, please contact St George’s Eye Care on (03) 375 6333 or

Spectralis 1
Did you know?

St George’s Eye Care now has an innovative new imaging machine to help diagnose conditions such as macular degeneration. Called the Spectralis OCT (pictured), the machine captures high-definition images of the retina, and is the international gold standard for retinal research.

About macular degeneration

Macular degeneration is an age-related disease affecting the macula, which is the central part of the retina at the back of the eye. The macula processes central vision and allows us to see fine details and colour. As we age, the macula accumulates wear and tear. Central vision becomes blurred and is gradually lost – which can impact your ability to read, recognise faces, drive and do daily tasks.

There is currently no cure for macular degeneration. Early detection and treatment are essential to help prevent further progression of the disease and save your sight.

If you think you are at risk of developing macular degeneration, the first step is to have regular eye checks with an optometrist. They can refer you to St George’s Eye Care for further testing and treatment if required.