New treat­ment for age-re­lated mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion

North Penn Life - - OPINION -

Dr. Wal­ter haplen was Rn Dn DLUSODnH flLJKW wKHn, sud­den­lyI his abil­ity to see closely dis­ap­peared.

“I lost the abil­ity to readI” the re­tired 9P-yearold op­tometrist from Mel­rose Park re­called. “I sus­pected a num­ber of thingsI” but “the di­ag­no­sis [mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tionz sur­prised me.”

5LFKDUd GHUEHU nRWLFHd his vi­sion had changed and thought he might need new glass­esI but when his vLsLRn JRW sLJnL­fiFDnWOy worse a short time la­t­erI he re­al­ized some­thing se­ri­ous was wrong.

,W wDsn’W ORnJ EHIRUH KH wDs sLWWLnJ Ln WKH RI­fiFH RI AUPsWURnJ CROW GHRUJH CRKHn 2SKWKDOPRORJy un­able to read the largest line on the eye chart with his left eye. Dr. Daniel WillI a reti­nal spe­cial­ist at the oph­thal­mol­ogy with of­fiFHs Ln AELnJWRn Dnd HDWERUR, H[SODLnHd GHUEHU had age-re­lated mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion and it was ur­gent to be­gin treat­ment im­me­di­ately.

“I had a black hole in the vi­sion cen­ter … the cen­ter of vi­sion was pretty much goneI” the SR-yearold Warmin­ster res­i­dent re­called.

It was Novem­ber OM11 Dnd LW PDUNHd WKH fiUsW WLPH he re­ceived an in­jec­tion of AvDsWLn Ln KLs HyH, RnH RI two drugs — the other is Lu­cen­tis — on the mar­ket used to halt pro­gres­sion of the dis­ease and in some cases re­store lost vi­sion. HH’s KDd Dn LnMHFWLRn Hvery month since.

“,’vH KDd vHUy sLJnL­f­i­cant good re­sultsI” said GHUEHU, Dn 2UWKRdR[ 3UHs­by­te­rian min­is­ter who helps set up new churches throughout the rnited States. “With wet mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion the sooner you be­gin treat­ments the bet­ter off.”

hap­lenI who has been get­ting Lu­cen­tis shots for about six monthsI said Will was “guard­edly op­ti­mistic” the drug would im­prove his vi­sion and “within a month or two my abil­ity to read re­turned and my gen­eral vi­sion im­proved.”

Wet age-re­lated mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tionI a lead­ing cause of vi­sion loss in APHULFDns DJH 60 Dnd ROderI de­stroys sharpI cen­tral vi­sion needed to do tasks such as read and driveI ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health. It oc­curs when ab­nor­mal blood ves­sels grow un­der a part of the retina called the macuOD Dnd OHDN EORRd Dnd fluLd, rais­ing the mac­ula.

It dif­fers from dry macu- lar de­gen­er­a­tionI which gen­er­ally ad­vances more slow­lyI but can progress to PRUH sHvHUH A0D.

Risk fac­tors in­clude ageI smok­ingI high blood pres­sureI high choles­terolI be­ing over­weight and hered­ity for light-skinned in­di­vid­u­alsI Dr. Will said. In the early stagesI there may be few symp­toms — straight lines may look bentI there PDy EH dLI­fiFuOWy see­ing things not in high con­trast.

,W’s LPSRUWDnW WR iden­tify pa­tients who are at risk through a reg­u­lar di­lated eye ex­amI he said. The con­di­tion can then be mon­i­tored at home with WKH usH RI Dn APsOHU JULd.

“CHUWDLn vLWDPLns FDn UH­duce the risk to a more ad­vanced stageI” Will saidI EuW RnFH wHW A0D Ls dLDJnosedI “while there is still a win­dow of op­por­tu­nity it is most im­por­tant to start treat­ment.”

“It comes to a point where there is a scar on the retina; noth­ing gets rid of the scar.”

The new­est treat­ment for wHW A0D Ls WKH LnMHFWLRn RI LuFHnWLs RU AvDsWLn LnWR the numbed jelly of the eye to halt the ab­nor­mal growth of blood ves­sels. BRWK .DSOHn Dnd GHUEHU said there is no pain as­so­ci­ated with the treat­ment.

,I wHW A0C Ls FDuJKW at an early stageI the in­jec­tions will sta­bi­lize the con­di­tion in 9M per­cent of cas­esI said WillI who was in­volved in the clin­i­cal tri­als for the treat­ment and has been us­ing it on pa­tients for the last few years.

“The av­er­age per­son treated does show im­prove­ment; the key is catch­ing it be­fore there is scar tis­sueI” he said.

A0D KDs EHFRPH Dn epi­demic due to the ag­ing pop­u­la­tionI Will said. It is the lead­ing cause of se­vere vi­sion loss in those SR and older and poses the great­est risk of blind­ness in that age group.

“6RPH dRn’W UHDOL] H LW; it sneaks up on themI” he sDLd. “, W’s LPSRUWDnW WR catch it at an early stage.”

“,I yRu dRn’W dR DnyWKLnJ about itI you go blindI” said hap­lenI who said there was no down­side to WKH WUHDWPHnW. “7KHUH’s some re­search go­ing on so in the fu­ture we may have some­thing elseI but at the mo­ment this is a treat­ment of choice.”

“FRU nRw wH’UH KDSSy we have these drugsI” Will said. “cor a se­vere cause of vi­sion loss in those over 65 Ln APHULFD, nRw LW’s very treat­able.”

To Your Health Linda Finarelli

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