A treatment for the most serious form of an eye condition that can lead to blindness has been approved for NHS patients in Scotland.

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has approved brolucizumab (Beovu) for age-related neovascular macular degeneration (AMD).

Their acceptance was based on the findings of two clinical trials which showed that in less than a year almost a third of patients were able to see at least 15 more letters in eye tests and vision gain was seen as early as four weeks into the trial, with progress maintained for two years.

Patients also required fewer injections, potentially reducing the number of hospital visits and in both trials, 30% fewer patients had signs of disease activity with brolucizumab versus the standard treatment.

Macular disease is the biggest cause of sight loss in the UK with up to 40,000 people developing wet AMD, the most serious form, every year.

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It is a long-term, degenerative disease that can cause changes in vision, often experienced as gaps or dark spots in the centre of a person’s sight.

In wet AMD, faulty blood vessels leak fluid and blood in the back of the eye, which can permanently scar the macula. If this fluid is left untreated, central vision will gradually get worse.

Actress Judy Dench disclosed that she has age-related macular degeneration, in 2012.

Brolucizumab works by suppressing the growth of these abnormal blood vessels, reducing the potential for fluid and blood leaking into the retina.

The decision has been welcomed by Cathy Yelf, Chief Executive of the Macular Society.

She said: "“With wet AMD, central vision gradually gets worse, making everyday activities such as reading, recognising faces and driving more difficult, and can eventually lead to a loss of independence.

“We are delighted that a new treatment option, which has the potential to maintain vision and help minimise the number of hospital visits for people living with this devastating condition and their loved ones, is now available in Scotland.”

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Dr Mark Toms, Medical Director and Chief Scientific Officer of drug manufacturer Novartis UK said: “Today’s SMC acceptance of brolucizumab represents an important advance for patients in Scotland living with wet AMD.

"They will now have access to a treatment option that has the potential to minimise the treatment burden while improving their vision and delaying progression of their wet AMD."

Novartis is expecting a decision from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) later in the year.