“You are so lucky to have wet macula degeneration”
One of my oldest friends came back from an appointment at a world-renowned Boston eye clinic, and with a history of vision loss in his family, these were not unexpected words but ones he clearly did not wish to hear.
The good news is that the doc gave him an injection (Lucentis I think) and eventually arrested the disease and through monthly treatments has kept him stabilized for the past 5 years.
Imagine, a cancer drug injected into the eye, which can halt vision loss with the “wet” variety of macula degeneration.
Lucentis works by inhibiting proteins called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which stimulate the growth of new blood vessels in the body. VEGF is thought to contribute to development of macular degeneration by promoting the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the retina.
With our aging population and amazing new science in pharmacology more and more success stories are being heard.
Drug treatment, laser treatment, implanted telescopes, and now stem cell treatment, used alone or in combination to reverse or halt this insidious family of diseases and a leading cause of blindness.
As eye care pro’s we should be telling our clients about prevention of macula problems
Here are guidelines to help prevent or slow the progression of AMD from Dr. Chris A. Knobbe, MD shared on All About Vision.com:
- Don’t smoke. Period
- Eat plenty of dark, leafy green vegetables, such as raw spinach. Just a half-cup of raw spinach three times a week is good.
- Take a multivitamin/multi-mineral supplement, such as Centrum Silver, unless your doctor advises otherwise.
- If you already have AMD, ask your doctor about one of the AREDS formulations, such as Alcon I-Caps, Bausch + Lomb Ocuvite PreserVision or ScienceBased Health MacularProtect Complete.
- Eat fish or take a fish oil supplement. I recommend taking two enteric-coated fish oil capsules every day on days you don’t eat fish. Why enteric-coated? Because it’s designed to help the capsule pass through your stomach unaltered until it finally breaks apart in the intestines; that way, you won’t belch up that fishy taste!
- Exercise regularly, and stay at a healthy weight.
- Eat fruit and nuts daily.
- Reduce refined carbohydrates (high-glycemic index foods).
- Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control. Regular exercise and weight control can help manage your blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Wear appropriate sunglasses outdoors to block UV and blue light that may cause eye damage.
- Have regular eye exams.
If prevention fails – there are new and exciting developments coming – A patient has become the first in the UK to receive an experimental stem cell treatment that has the potential to save the sight of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.
By December, doctors will know whether the patient, who has age-related macular degeneration, has regained her sight after a successful operation at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London last month. Over 18 months, 10 patients will undergo the treatment.
The transplant involves eye cells, called retinal pigment epithelium, derived from stem cells and grown in the lab to form a patch that can be placed behind the retina during surgery.
Lets keep our fingers crossed and hope this is a real breakthrough (the research team in England hopes that the treatment may help those with “dry” macula degeneration as well, but these clinical trials are on patients with the “wet” variety.)