New treatment for age-related macular degeneration
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