New Treatments Offer Hope to Elders with Macular Degeneration

By Brandpoint | St. Joseph News-Press, March 31, 2015 | Go to article overview

New Treatments Offer Hope to Elders with Macular Degeneration


Brandpoint, St. Joseph News-Press


(BPT) - When Joan Nick, an 87-year-old retiree, was diagnosed with the dry form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in her left eye, she was worried about going blind.

Joan had already lost sight in her right eye in her 60s due to glaucoma, so the vision in her left eye was all she had - and she didn't want to lose it.

As there are no treatments for dry AMD other than supplements that slow progression in some patients, Joan's AMD was monitored through regular eye exams to detect changes. Then, one day during an exam, Joan's ophthalmologist asked her to read an eye chart; and to her surprise, she couldn't read it at all. Her condition had progressed to the more severe, wet form of AMD.

Joan is one of an estimated 11 million Americans who have some form of AMD, a disorder that erodes the central vision, making it difficult to read, drive or recognize faces. This vision loss can occur slowly, but in some cases like Joan's it is sudden.

While AMD is the leading cause of legal blindness among seniors in the United States, recent advances in treatment has made the disease more manageable than ever - great news for people like Joan.

Treatments are better than ever

Joan's condition, wet AMD, is the form that reduces vision quickly and is responsible for 90 percent of all legal blindness related to AMD. Ten years ago, wet AMD was considered largely untreatable and many patients experienced severe, irreversible vision loss. But with the introduction of new treatment options, such as anti-VEGF (anti-vascular endothelial growth factor) drugs, which are injected into the eye, more patients with the condition are maintaining their eyesight and avoiding permanent vision loss. …

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