Des Moines Retina Doctor | Macular Degeneration Exam

December 22, 2020

Dr. Jared Nielsen performs first in the Midwest surgery in clinical trial evaluating an investigational gene therapy for geographic atrophy

Wolfe Eye Clinic Retina Disease Surgeon, Dr. Jared Nielsen, was recently the third surgeon in the United States and first in Iowa and in the Midwest to perform surgery in a clinic trial evaluating an investigational gene therapy called GT005 for geographic atrophy secondary to dry age-related macular degeneration.

What is geographic atrophy?

Geographic atrophy (GA) is an advanced form of dry age-related macular degeneration. This retinal disease can lead to loss of vision over time that can result in the progressive and irreversible loss of retina. The retina is the thin layer of tissue on the inside back wall of the eye and it is responsible for converting light that has entered the eye into neural signals that are used for visual recognition by the brain. A healthy retina is vital to good functional vision.

While geographic atrophy (GA) symptoms vary with each patient, central vision is often most impacted. Symptoms may include:

  • Distorted or blurred vision
  • Straight lines may appear wavy
  • Small blind spots which may interfere with reading and seeing objects clearly

It is important if you or a loved one are experiencing any of the symptoms above to call your eye doctor to schedule a comprehensive eye exam. Your optometrist may refer you to a Wolfe Eye Clinic retina specialist for further evaluation and treatment.

Geographic Atrophy Treatment

While an estimated 1.4 million Americans are affected by GA, there are currently no FDA-approved medicines for this disease.1 However, there are important strides being made in clinical research to evaluate possible therapies.

Iowa Geographic Atrophy Treatment | Retina Surgery Dr. Nielsen is an investigator in a study called FOCUS [NCT03846193], which is an open-label Phase I/II clinical trial evaluating the safety and dose response of three doses of GT005 given as a single subretinal injection. The trial is evaluating adults aged 55 and older who have been diagnosed with GA secondary to dry AMD.

“Geographic atrophy is a life-altering diagnosis, in large part because there are currently no treatments available and it results in permanent loss of vision,” said Jared Nielsen, MD, MBA and Director of Retina Clinical Trials at Wolfe Eye Clinic. “We are excited to participate in this study and look forward to advancing this important research with the goal of providing better care for our patients and those around the world.”

About GT005

GT005 is an investigational gene therapy for geographic atrophy that uses a genetically modified virus to make the cells in the eye produce more of a type of protein called Complement Factor I (CFI). Low levels of CFI are potentially linked with AMD and GA. By raising the levels of CFI in the eye, it may be possible to slow down the progression of AMD and GA.

GT005 has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for any use and its efficacy and safety profile have not been established. GT005 is being developed by Gyroscope Therapeutics Limited, a clinical-stage retinal gene therapy company. For more information visit

How can Iowa retina specialists at Wolfe Eye Clinic help?

Wolfe Eye Clinic retina surgeons are fellowship-trained experts in medically and surgically treating various forms of retina disease including diabetic eye disease, macular degeneration, flashes and floaters, retinal tears and retinal detachments, macular holes and epiretinal membranes. Wolfe Eye Clinic’s Iowa retina specialists work closely with your local eye doctor to manage your care and assist in evaluating your vision and eye health. Should you need surgery, the retina surgeons at Wolfe Eye Clinic can provide customized retina treatments which may include eye injections, laser treatments or retinal surgery.

As active participants in many ongoing national clinical research trials, Wolfe Eye Clinic retina specialists are known for offering patients the latest in retinal diagnostic and treatment technologies. Complete retina services in Iowa are available at Wolfe Eye Clinic in Ames, Cedar Falls, Des Moines, Fort Dodge, Hiawatha (Cedar Rapids)Iowa City, Marshalltown, Ottumwa, Pleasant Hill, Spencer and Waterloo. You can request more information on retina conditions here or give us a call at (833) 474-5850.

1. Friedman DS, O’Gorman BJ, Muñoz B, et al. Prevalence of age-related macular degeneration in the United States [published correction appears in Arch Ophthalmol. 2011 Sep;129(9):1188]. Arch Ophthalmol. 2004;122(4):564-572.