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New Drug Helps Slow Macular Degeneration

August 23, 2007, 3:43 PM by Shawn Neisteadt

New Drug Helps Slow Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration is an eye disease that can cause you to become legally blind. There isn't a cure but doctors recently found a medication that helps. 

Reading is everything to Dick Mannat. Mannat, who has macular degeneration, says, "I've used my eyes very hard all my life." 

Mannat's business was publishing. And now that he's retired, reading is his life. Mannat says, "I probably read eight or nine hours a day. I live biographies, autobiographies..." 

Reading keeps him feeling connected. Something he feared he'd lose when his eye sight started to go--distorted lines, blurry print. Mannat says, “The center of your vision become dark grey. You can't see anything." 

Classic signs of macular degeneration. 

Dr. Colin McCannel, Mayo Clinic Ophthalmologist says, "Once it looks black in the center usually there's not a lot we can do about it." 

But Dr. McCannel says if age-related macular degeneration is caught early, people like Mannat may benefit from an injection of medicine that slows down the progression of the disease. McCannel says, "How are thing with you eye today?" 

With macular degeneration, the retina can't function, but the medication disrupts the chemical signal that prompts the abnormal blood vessels to grow. The vessels shrivel up, preserving vision. McCannel says, "Ninety percent of patients maintained or improved vision with the treatment. That's revolutionary in the treatment of this disease." 

And a blessing to Dick Mannat. Mannat says, "I'm going to read until I can't read anymore." 

Mannat has monthly appointments to monitor his sight. That's how long it takes for the injections to wear off. If the disease becomes active again, Mannat gets another injection. 

Macular Degeneration 

Mayo Clinic

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