New treatment for age-related macular degeneration
DU. :DOWHU .DSOHn wDs Rn Dn DLUSODnH flLghW whHn, suddenly, his ability to see FORsHOy GLsDSSHDUHG.
“I lost the abilLWy WR UHDG,” WhH retired 93-year-old RSWRmHWULsW IURm 0HOURsH 3DUN UHFDOOHG. “, susSHFWed a number of WhLngs,” buW “WhH diagnosis [macular degenerationz surSULsHG mH.”
Richard derber noticed his vision had changed and thought he might need new glasses, but when his visLRn gRW sLgnLfiFDnWOy wRUsH a short time later, he realized something serious was wrong.
It wasn’t long before he wDs sLWWLng Ln WhH RIfiFH RI Armstrong Colt deorge CohHn OShWhDOmRORgy unDbOH to read the largest line on the eye chart with his left eye. Dr. Daniel Will, a retinal sSHFLDOLsW DW WhH RShWhDOmRORgy wLWh RIfiFHs Ln $bLngWRn DnG HDWbRUR, H[SODLnHG GHUber had age-related macular degeneration and it was urgent to begin treatment immediately.
“I had a black hole in the vision center … the center RI YLsLRn wDs SUHWWy muFh gRnH,” WhH 65-yHDU-ROG Warminster resident recalled.
,W wDs 1RYHmbHU 2011 DnG LW mDUNHG WhH fiUsW WLmH hH UHFHLYHG Dn LnMHFWLRn RI Avastin in his eye, one of two drugs — the other is Lucentis — on the market used WR hDOW SURgUHssLRn RI WhH disease and in some cases restore lost vision. He’s had an LnMHFWLRn HYHUy mRnWh sLnFH.
“,’YH hDG YHUy sLgnLfiFDnW gRRG UHsuOWs,” sDLG GHUbHU, Dn OUWhRGR[ 3UHsbyWHULDn mLnLsWHU whR hHOSs sHW uS new churches throughout the United States. “With wet macular degeneration the sooner you begin treatments WhH bHWWHU RII.”
.DSOHn, whR hDs bHHn getting Lucentis shots for about six months, said Will wDs “guDUGHGOy RSWLmLsWLF” WhH GUug wRuOG LmSURYH hLs vision and “within a month or two my ability to read returned and my general visLRn LmSURYHG.”
Wet age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of vision loss in Americans age 60 and older, GHsWURys shDUS, FHnWUDO YLsion needed to do tasks such as read and drive, according to the National Institutes of Health. It occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow unGHU D SDUW RI WhH UHWLnD called the macula and leak bORRG DnG fluLG, UDLsLng WhH macula.
It differs from dry macular degeneration, which generally advances more slowly, buW FDn SURgUHss WR mRUH sHvere AMD.
Risk factors include age, smoking, high blood SUHssuUH, hLgh cholesterol, being overweight and heredity for lightskinned individuals, Dr. Will said. In the early stages, there may be few symSWRms — straight lines may look bent, there mDy bH GLIfiFuOWy seeing things not in high contrast.
,W’s LmSRUWDnW WR LGHnWLIy SDWLHnWs whR DUH DW ULsN through a regular dilated eye exam, he said. The condition can then be monitored at home with the use of an Amsler grid.
“Certain vitamins can reduce the risk to a more adYDnFHG sWDgH,” :LOO sDLG, buW once wet AMD is diagnosed, “while there is still a winGRw RI RSSRUWunLWy LW Ls mRsW LmSRUWDnW WR sWDUW WUHDWmHnW.”
“,W FRmHs WR D SRLnW whHUH there is a scar on the retina; nRWhLng gHWs ULG RI WhH sFDU.”
The newest treatment for wHW $0D Ls WhH LnMHFWLRn RI Lucentis or Avastin into the numbHG MHOOy RI WhH HyH WR halt the abnormal growth of bORRG YHssHOs. BRWh .DSOHn and derber said there is no SDLn DssRFLDWHG wLWh WhH treatment.
If wet AMC is caught at Dn HDUOy sWDgH, WhH LnMHFWLRns will stabilize the condition Ln 90 SHUFHnW RI FDsHs, sDLG Will, who was involved in the clinical trials for the treatment and has been usLng LW Rn SDWLHnWs IRU WhH ODsW few years.
“7hH DYHUDgH SHUsRn WUHDWHG GRHs shRw LmSURYHmHnW; the key is catching it before WhHUH Ls sFDU WLssuH,” hH sDLG.
AMD has become an HSLGHmLF GuH WR WhH DgLng SRSuODWLRn, :LOO sDLG. ,W Ls the leading cause of severe vision loss in those 65 and ROGHU DnG SRsHs WhH gUHDWHsW risk of blindness in that age gURuS.
“Some don’t realize it; it snHDNs uS Rn WhHm,” hH sDLG. “,W’s LmSRUWDnW WR FDWFh LW DW Dn HDUOy sWDgH.”
“If you don’t do anything DbRuW LW, yRu gR bOLnG,” sDLG .DSOHn, whR sDLG WhHUH wDs no downside to the treatment. “There’s some research going on so in the future we may have something else, but at the moment this is a treatment of FhRLFH.”
“FRU nRw wH’UH hDSSy wH hDYH WhHsH GUugs,” :LOO sDLG. “For a severe cause of vision loss in those over 65 in America, now it’s very treatDbOH.”