Now you know: Treating macular degeneration

Monday, May 2, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:05 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 12, 2008

What happened:

Dean Hainsworth, an MU ophthalmologist, has found a nonsurgical approach to treat wet age-related macular degeneration, a progressive eye condition that occurs when vessels form under the retinal tissue in the eye. The condition could reduce the sharpness of vision and lead to legal blindness.

How it works:

Hainsworth, a physician at University Hospital’s Mason Eye Institute, injects Macugen, a type of ophthalmic drug, into the eye every six weeks. The drug then sets off a protein called the vascular endothelial growth factor that controls abnormal blood-vessel growth and leakage. By doing so, the treatment prevents advanced degeneration.

What this means:

In a two-year study, the treatment limited the development of legal blindness by 50 percent. The study also showed benefits with continued treatment. Macugen has the potential to help all patients with wet age-related macular degeneration, Hainsworth said in an MU News Bureau release, but the treatment has been approved only for patients with a specific subtype of the disease.

— Missourian staff

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