Proton Beam Therapy Helps Treat Degenerative Eye Disease
The devastating effect of sight loss in many elderly Americans can be eased by a new medical treatment that can reduce further loss.
An estimated one million Americans now suffer severe sight loss from an eye disease called age related macular degeneration (AMD). Ten million Americans are affected with AMD and related eye diseases.
Most frequently, the disease begins to appear in people over age 60. And it can occur in those as young as 40.
The part of the eye known as the macula allows for central vision that's necessary for reading, driving and recognizing faces.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, 90 percent of macular degeneration cases are "dry," slow to develop and only cause mild a vision loss.
But the other ten percent who develop the "Wet" form of the disease, fluid builds up around the macula, and central vision can be lost. Symptoms can develop quickly and legal blindness can occur in a matter of weeks if left unattended. In fact, the wet form of AMD accounts for nearly 90 percent of all blindness from the disease.
While the cause of macular degeneration is unknown, medical science is working in several areas to find a cure, or at least slow down or stabilize loss of vision.
One such treatment that offers new hope is proton beam therapy.
A study of macular degeneration patients begun at Southern California's Loma Linda University Medical Center proton treatment center more than three years ago treated the wet form of the disease with proton therapy. To date, more than 80 patients have experienced encouraging results. Also, none has experienced any clinical side effects.
Proton therapy is nonsurgical and takes only one minute to perform. The treatment is noninvasive and painless, and allows patients to continue their normal activities.
The best hope for retaining a useful vision is early detection and early treatment, which means having annual eye exams and checking with your Ophthalmologist as soon as you experience any of the symptoms.