March 4, 2004.
By Melissa Painter,
NBC2 News Online,
More than 13 million people in the US suffer from macular degeneration, a disease that leads to blindness for older adults. But some new research, done in Southwest Florida, could lead to a cure.
Ruby Decker suffers from macular degeneration.
"I can't even remember when I was diagnosed. It's been some time," said
Decker has the wet form of the disease, which is more aggressive than dry, age-related macular degeneration. With the wet form, unwanted blood vessels develop in the retina. In the dry form, the retina simply deteriorates.
Decker has been lucky, while many people lose their eyesight, she still has hers.
"I have 20/20 in one eye 20/25 in the other. I think that's excellent," said Decker.
A new breakthrough drug may help others with the disease achieve that same great vision.
ruFab is an investigative drug that's reversing vision loss for people with wet macular degeneration.
In early studies, ruFab destroyed the unwanted blood vessels in the eye and even prevented new ones from growing.
A clinical trial on the drug is starting in Southwest Florida with 720 patients. But the treatment isn't easy, doctors actually give you an injection in your eye.
"The only way you can localize the treatment is to actually place the drug in or next to the eye," said Dr. Wayne Streilein.
Preventing ruFab from destroying vessels you need and possibly restoring lost vision.
"I'm anxious to see what this new research is going to hold for us," said Decker.
Doctors expect to see results by 2006.
The early symptoms of wet macular degeneration include distortion of straight lines and loss of your central vision. The symptoms can appear overnight.
Doctors don't know people get it, but there are traits that make you more likely to develop it. Older adults over 60 are most likely to develop it. Women with blond hair and blue eyes are susceptible as well. You are also likely to get it if your family has a history of the disease. Other risk factors are smoking, obesity and heart disease.
© 2003 by NBC2 News. All rights reserved.
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