New Advancements In Treating Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration. also referred to as AMD, is a common eye disease associated with aging that gradually impairs sharp, central vision. It affects approximately 13 million people in the U.S. and is the leading cause of vision loss. Because of the aging baby boomer population in this country, some experts say AMD will be "the epidemic of the 21st century."

These concerns have led physicians and researchers on an ever-expanding mission to find ways to improve the treatment of macular degeneration.


The Two Common Forms of AMD


"Dry" AMD

Eight-five percent of all people with AMD have the dry form of the disease. Researchers believe that dry AMD is caused by the aging and thinning of the tissues of the macula, a region in the center of the retina that controls central vision and allows us to make out fine details. Some people have dry AMD for many years without vision loss. But because the dry form can progress quickly to the potentially damaging wet form, early detection and careful monitoring is crucial.

Although there is no proven treatment for dry macular degeneration, there are studies being conducted to evaluate the possible benefit of nutritional supplements for the condition. The Eye Centers of Florida is participating in one such study that assesses the relationship between nutrition and macular degeneration in almost 500 women across the U.S.

"Wet" AMD
Although a small percentage of people with macular degeneration have this type, it is a much greater threat to vision. With the wet form of the disease abnormal blood vessels grow rapidly, developing beneath the macula, leaking fluid and blood that can cause severe loss of central vision. Laser treatment has been the traditional and most widely used method of treating wet macular degeneration, but while it can slow or prevent further vision loss, it rarely improves vision.

New Options for the Treatment of Wet Macular Degeneration

Photo Dynamic Therapy
Eye Centers of Florida is participating in an FDA clinical trial for the treatment of wet macular degeneration. The trial treatment, developed by California-based Miravant Pharmaceuticals, is a two-step photodynamic therapy (PDT)*. Patients are injected with a light-sensitive drug that collects in the abnormal blood vessels. A special low-power laser light then is used for about a minute to trigger a chemical reaction that slows or halts the growth of those vessels without affecting the surrounding tissue. As a result, researchers hope that PDT, unlike traditional laser treatment, may improve vision.

Patients are needed to participate in the clinical trials of PDT. Those who are accepted will be treated at no charge**. Candidates must be in good overall health, diagnosed with wet macular degeneration, and be willing to participate for up to 103 weeks, which includes treatment and follow-up.

Retinal Translocation Surgery
Individuals who have severe visual loss due to retinal hemorrhages or membranes may benefit from a "rescue" surgery now performed by a select group of surgeons around the world. While the early results of this surgery are encouraging, it is not for everyone. Only those individuals with the most severe macular degeneration are candidates.

The concept is simple: surgically detach the retina and relocate the damaged portion away from the central portion of your vision.
By doing this, surgeons hope to restore central vision. Early results have shown remarkable improvement in vision, a rarity among patients treated for macular degeneration. In one small study, retinal translocation surgery stabilized the vision of the majority of patients.

While the results are remarkable, the risks of the surgery must be weighed against the benefits. One significant drawback experienced is the distortion and double-vision that results if both eyes are not working together. Objects viewed through the operated eye are likely to appear tilted and distorted. In most cases the tilt goes away on its own after 4 to 8 weeks, or can be corrected by performing eye muscle surgery.

While retinal translocation surgery is in its infancy, it offers great hope for patients losing sight from wet macular degeneration.
To find out if you or a loved one are a candidate for this procedure, call Eye Centers of Florida at 1-800-226-3377

We have a simple test that may help determine whether you have symptoms of macular degeneration. Click here for The Amsler Grid - To Test Your Vision.

Other Vision Problems

(*The Miravant photodynamic therapy is an investigational drug, limited by federal law to investigational use.) .

**THE PATIENT AND ANY OTHER PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR PAYMENT HAS A RIGHT TO REFUSE TO PAY, CANCEL PAYMENT, OR BE REIMBURSED FOR PAYMENT FOR ANY OTHER SERVICE, EXAMINATION, OR TREATMENT WHICH IS PERFORMED AS A RESULT OF AND WITHIN 72 HOURS OF RESPONDING TO THE ADVERTISEMENT FOR THE FREE, DISCOUNTED FEE, OR REDUCED FEE SERVICE, EXAMINATION, OR TREATMENT.