Good News In The Fight Against Age-Related Vision Loss

(NC)—After a lifetime of normal vision, not being able to see people’s faces, watch TV or read a book is devastating.

That’s the tough reality, faced by thousands of Canadians as they age who suffer from a degenerative eye disease called age-related macular degeneration (AMD). It’s the most common cause of vision loss for Canadians over the age of 50.

AMD is an eye disease that occurs more frequently with age. It damages the macula, a very small and specialized area in the centre of the retina, which is responsible for central vision necessary for ordinary vision-related activities such as seeing faces, reading and driving.

There are two types of AMD, dry and wet.

Typically, dry AMD progresses slowly and is usually less severe. Until two years ago, the diagnosis of wet AMD meant severe central vision loss and possibly even blindness, in a matter of weeks to months. People’s lives were devastated because their independence and autonomy were at risk.

In 2007, a new treatment called Lucentis was approved by Health Canada. It is the first and only treatment for wet AMD that has been shown to actually improve vision.

The majority of people with wet AMD can see their vision improve after the first treatments.

The good news for people with wet AMD in New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador is that they now have access to Lucentis through their provincial drug plans. “Lucentis stops macular degeneration in its tracks and having access to it is a real milestone for New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador residents,” said Duncan Williams, CNIB’s executive director for New Brunswick.

“Until now a diagnosis of AMD almost certainly lead to significant vision loss or blindness. We congratulate the governments for recognizing the importance of this treatment and the differenced that it will make on the lives of patients.”

If you’ve been diagnosed with wet AMD or you notice a sudden change in your vision such as blurring or a blank spot in your visual field, speak to your eye doctor about this new advance in the treatment of wet AMD. Early diagnosis gives you a better chance at preserving your vision. If you have questions, you should discuss with your doctor.