Patients Benefit From New Macular Degeneration Drug

Local Study Results Announced By Retina Consultants of Southwest Florida

PORT CHARLOTTE, FLA., November 19, 2012 – Frank Mazur of Punta Gorda knew there was something wrong with his vision when he could no longer see well enough to work on his wood carvings or make his daily drive to the gym.

“One wrong cut and I could be missing a finger,” he said.

Mazur has Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of legal blindness among people over the age of 50 in the western world. His optometrist at the Veterans Administration recommended that he see a retina specialist after he noticed some irregularities in Mazur’s vision about two years ago.

“I really didn’t notice that anything was wrong at the time,” Mazur said.

An appointment with Dr. Ashish Sharma of Retina Consultants of Southwest Florida in their Port Charlotte office showed that he had the beginning stages of “dry” AMD in his right eye and “wet” AMD in his left eye. While dry AMD can exist for many years with only a gradual reduction in vision, the wet variety progresses quickly and can rob patients of the central vision needed for reading and driving.

Mazur began a regimen of regular injections of Lucentis®, an FDA-approved drug that helps delay the progression of wet AMD, but doesn’t cure it. “Wet” AMD occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina in the macula, the part of the eye that is responsible for central vision.

Lucentis® and a companion drug, Avastin®, have both been used in the treatment of wet AMD since 2006. While long hailed as vision-saving treatments, some patients do experience persistent bleeding and swelling, despite multiple previous injections.

The introduction of the newest treatment on the market to date, called Eylea®, is changing that outcome for Mazur and others like him. With a single injection, Mazur’s swelling and vision improved.

He now has 20/20 vision in his right eye and 20/25 vision in his left eye, according to Dr. Sharma.

“Wet Macular Degeneration is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ disease, so it is important to have several treatment options to try, especially for those patients with a persistent problem that requires multiple injections,” he said.

Retina Consultants recently announced the results of its internal testing of 100 patients who received the Eylea® treatment for AMD in the past 10 months. Forty percent had no further abnormal blood vessel growth and swelling after a single injection of Eylea® and one third of the patients experienced improved vision.

The vision-saving results were announced by Dr. Sharma at the American Society of Retina Specialists annual meeting in Las Vegas attended by 1,000 retina specialists from all over the world.

Dr. Sharma said the announcement has profound implications for the treatment of Southwest Florida senior citizens with AMD and offers hope to patients like Mazur with vision-threatening persistent wet AMD. Mazur is now able to drive, work on his wood carving and enjoy reading – even the fine print.

“I was very fortunate that it was caught in time. Dr. Sharma went out of his way to explain the treatment options to me in detail. I am so pleased with the treatment and Dr. Sharma,” Mazur said.

Dr. Sharma said the new therapy may reduce the number of injections that patients need to receive to achieve stability, but emphasized that your doctor is best suited to determine which drug is best for you, based on patient health history and safety issues for each drug.

Retina Consultants of Southwest Florida and its research facility, the National Ophthalmic Research Institute, have also participated in multiple clinical trials testing Eylea®, manufactured by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Usage of Eylea® is not limited to wet AMD. Other retinal diseases currently being studied that may benefit from Eylea® injections include diabetic retinopathy and branch retinal vein occlusions. Eylea® was recently FDA-approved for use in patients with macular edema from Central Retina Vein Occlusion.

Retina Consultants of Southwest Florida is the most experienced team of retina specialists in Southwest Florida with combined experience of more than 100 years. Offices are conveniently located in Port Charlotte, Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Bonita Springs, and Naples.

Doctors with Retina Consultants of Southwest Florida are Fellows of the American College of Surgeons, members of the American Society of Retina Specialists, American Academy of Ophthalmology, The Schepens Eye Research Institute/Massachusetts Eye and Ear, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and the American Medical Association.

Retina Consultants of Southwest Florida offers all FDA-approved therapies for retina eye disease and is a leader in clinical research through the National Ophthalmic Research Institute (NORI), including clinical trials funded by the National Eye Institute, The Schepens Eye Research Institute/Massachusetts Eye and Ear, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and other public and private medical research foundations.

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