Blind World Magazine

Macular Degeneration.
Cancer Drug Fights Macular Degeneration.

December 21, 2005. (North Carolina).

MIAMI -- Wet age-related macular degeneration is a condition that blinds more than 1 million people in the United States. That number is expected to double by the year 2020 as baby boomers get older. But now a cancer drug is giving patients their vision back.

Rosemary Kohler's life started out like a fairy tale, born inside an Italian castle. And she later met her prince charming, George. But a few years ago, the 81-year-old princess didn't think her story would have a happy ending.

"I felt as if I'd lost at least 50 percent of my eyesight in about a month," she said.

Kohler was diagnosed with wet age-related macular degeneration, or wet AMD. It's a condition in which blood vessels in the eye grow and leak, resulting in severe vision loss.

But a cancer drug called Avastin has given Kohler much of her vision back. It appears to work better than any other wet AMD treatment.

"Never before were we able to tell our patients that you could actually see better after therapy," said Dr. Philip Rosenfeld, an pphthalmologist at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami.

Rosenfeld said that in a small study, patients saw vision improvements one week after the injection, when fluid in the retina flattens out.

"I've had patients go from being legally blind, 20/200 or worse to being able to see 20/20 after receiving the drug," Rosenfeld said.

Rosenfeld said getting to 20/20 vision isn't typical. He also said Avastin is only for patients in the early stages of the disease and should be used within 6 months to 12 months from the time of onset.

So far, more than 2,000 patients have been injected in the world with no major side effects.

Kohler is now seeing about 20/40. She's back to painting and hopes to live happily ever after.

If you would like more information, please contact:

Cynthia Birch
Bascom Palmer Eye Institute
The University of Miami
900 NW 17th Street
Miami, FL 33136
(305) 326-6190
(305) 326-6199

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