Year

2012

Degree Name

Master of Arts - Research

Department

Faculty of Arts

Abstract

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease that can leave people over fifty years old with little or no central vision. It can result in a person being legally blind and unable to easily perform everyday tasks that require the use of detailed vision such as reading, writing and even facial recognition. The wet form of AMD has serious consequences for a large number of people and in the exemplifying clinical encounter of Mr Silverless the human side of wet AMD is explored. The drugs Lucentis and Avastin can slow and often reverse this loss of vision. These two drugs are very similar and mainly differ in the way that the much cheaper drug Avastin has struggled to attract funding for large scale clinical trials research. It is important to acknowledge that this wet AMD research that has been left to one side is also part of a broader group of visual problems that have been given a lower priority by the forces guiding vision science research funding. To address this comprehensively AMD needs to be understood in the context of other eye problems such as trachoma and cataract prevention. The innovative concept of undone science has emerged from the sociology of science as a useful tool for highlighting the politics of research priorities. The undone science of wet Age-related Macular Degeneration treatment research can be used to illustrate broader themes related to the production and direction of biomedical sciences. By analysing undone science the opportunity to reform can be made more explicit, but this means taking a partisan position critical of the role of vested interests in discouraging innovative research into less profitable drug treatments.

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