New treat­ment for age-re­lated mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion

Souderton Independent - - OPINION -

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.”

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