Patients Benefit From New Macular Degeneration Drug

Local Study Results Announced By Retina Consultants of Southwest Florida

FORT MYERS, FLA., October 15, 2012

Patricia Liscinsky of South Fort Myers knew there was something wrong with her vision while driving home from work at a local department store one night. She couldn’t read the street signs, especially at dusk.

Her vision became worse day by day until she finally was no longer able to work nights at all. Then her ophthalmologist referred her to Retina Consultants of Southwest Florida, where she was diagnosed with the “wet” variety of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of legal blindness among people over the age of 50 in the western world.

“I wasn’t able to drive long distances – even to Cape Coral to see my grandchildren,” the 76-year-old grandmother said.

Patricia began a regimen of regular injections of Lucentis®, an FDA-approved drug that helps delay the progression of 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 side-effects such as 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 Patricia and others like her. With a single injection, Patricia’s bleeding and swelling stopped and her vision improved.

She now has 20/40 vision in her right eye and 20/20 vision in her left eye, according to her retina specialist, Dr. Joseph Walker of Retina Consultants of Southwest Florida.

“Eylea® is the new generation FDA-approved treatment for Wet AMD and seems to be more effective for certain individuals,” Dr. Walker said.

Retina Consultants this week 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. Ashish G. Sharma of Retina Consultants of Southwest Florida at the American Society of Retina Specialists annual meeting in Las Vegas attended by 1,000 retina specialists from all over the world.

Dr. Walker and Dr. Sharma said the announcement has profound implications for the treatment of Southwest Florida senior citizens with AMD and offers hope to patients like Patricia with vision-threatening persistent wet AMD. Patricia is now able to drive to Cape Coral to see her grandchildren and read fine print without glasses.

“I am so pleased – Dr. Walker gave me my lifestyle back,” she said. “I was so afraid of becoming dependent upon someone else to take me to the grocery store and other places. I feel like I can live my life now.”

Both physicians 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 Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Bonita Springs, Naples and Port Charlotte.

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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