As we age, preserving independence and continuing to do the things we love can greatly depend on good eye health. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of central vision loss or blindness in people over fifty, and it is the number two reason, second only to Alzheimer’s disease, for why people end up in nursing homes. Joining Andrew Schorr on this episode of Patient Power to discuss the exciting new developments in the treatment and management of macular degeneration is Dr. Russell Van Gelder, chairman of Ophthalmology at the University of Washington Medical Center, University of Washington School of Medicine.
Dr. Van Gelder begins his discussion with a basic overview of how the eye functions. This allows him to offer a more in-depth description of what is actually happening to an eye with macular degeneration, which comes in both a dry and wet form. Together, Andrew and Dr. Van Gelder define the differences between the two forms. About 90 percent of cases are dry macular degeneration, for which there is no specific treatment. Dr. Van Gelder discusses how to manage the disease and keep it from progressing to the more serious form, wet macular degeneration. Experts still do not understand what causes this degenerative eye disease on the most basic level, but there has been tremendous progress in recent years in the area of treatment. Dr. Van Gelder describes some of the older therapies used in the past and the newer drug and surgical treatments that replace them today, as well as preventative measures to preserve the vision you have for as long as possible. This includes a discussion of the three recently FDA approved treatments– Lucentis, Macugen and Photodynamic Therapy – for the wet form of macular degeneration, as well as vitamin regimens that have been shown to help in the management of the disease.
Patient John McMannus, a vibrant grandfather and former pilot, shares his story of developing macular degeneration and receiving Lucentis, which involves an injection in the eye. Dr. Van Gelder contends it is imperative for patients to monitor their eyes and see an eye care professional if they sense any changes in their vision. Learn how Mr. McMannus uses an Amsler grid to help him do this. Dr. Van Gelder goes on to answer questions from Patient Power listeners, which leads to a discussion on clinical trials and new drug combinations that may improve treatment and outcomes for patients in the future. With all of the recent progress in treatment, macular degeneration patients can have hope of restored vision and an improved quality of life. With people living longer, the incidence of eye problems is increasing, and Dr. Van Gelder stresses the importance of on-going support in eye care research to ensure better treatments can be developed. Overall, an informative and inspiring program with a wealth of information for maintaining eye health as you age.
Russell N. Van Gelder, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor and Chairman, Department of Ophthalmology, UW MedicineDr. Van Gelder is Boyd K. Bucey Professor and Chairman in the Department of Ophthalmology at University of Washington Eye Center. He received his medical degree from Stanford University School of Medicine and completed his residency at Barnes-Jewish Hospital/Washington University Medical School. His primary clinical interest is in ocular inflammatory disease (uveitis and related conditions). He also cares for patients... more >
Macular Degeneration Patient, UW MedicineJohn McMannus, a vibrant grandfather and former pilot, shares his story of developing macular degeneration and receiving Lucentis, which involves an injection in the eye. more >