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By Rodika Tollefson
A Poulsbo-based company is working on a device that could help treat age-related macular degeneration, a debilitating disease that has no cure. If all goes well, LumiThera, Inc. could see its device on the market in Europe next year â" and work its way into the United States after that.
According to the American Macular Degeneration Foundation, macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss, affecting more than 10 million Americans. That’s more than cataracts and glaucoma combined.
Typically, macular degeneration is age-related (but there’s also a form caused by a recessive gene).
“The disease is profound in the sense that you lose your central vision and as you lose your central vision, you lose your ability to read, drive, function in a lot of your daily activities â" and ultimately, it can take your independence,” says Clark Tedford, the Ph.D. who is one of the five LumiThera co-founders.
Since its inception in 2013, the company has been developing a medical device using photobiomodulation, also known as low-level light treatment.
Unlike surgical or aesthetic laser (which destroys tissue), photobiomodulation creates a photochemical reaction with the cell at certain wavelengths. The therapy has been used for things such as chronic pain and healing after sports injuries.
“It’s been used for many years as an alternative to traditional anti-inflammatory drug medication,” Tedford says. “The technology has an outstanding safety record.”