One ophthalmologist calls it a "miracle drug." It's a single injection, designed to reverse the loss of vision forpeople who once had few other options.
"With retina problems, your world is all'curvy,'" said Toni Conley, who suffers from blurry vision. She has had complications with her vision for five years. "It's wavy. The words are wavy, theletters are wavy."
Dr. Preston Richmond, an ophthalmologist with Central Florida Retina, describes her condition as vitreomacular adhesion, or VMA.
"The insideof the eye is attached to the retina, and it pulls on the retina. You can likenit to a flat sheet on a bed -- if you try to pull that sheet up, it tents thesheet. The same thing is occurring in the center of her vision. that causesblurring of the vision," he said. "It can lead to macular hole, or hole in the center ofthe vision, and that really can lead to legal blindness."
For decades, there has only been one treatment. It involved a surgery, where afterward, the patientwould have to spend the next week-and-a-half face down. Virtually every minute, of day after day, staring at the floor.
"Oh it's horrible. It's just horrible. I could put a TV on the floor and look at the TV. I could do books andread," said Conley. "The first time was five years ago, when I had thatterrible surgery."
"It's miserable for the patients," said Dr. Richmond. "So,to have this FDA-approved injection is great news for us!"
Dr. Richmond is referring to "Jetrea," abrand new drug he's mixing specifically for Conley. "Half of that dose into theinside of the eye," he explains.
Yes, brace yourself. It's an injection into the eye. But it's much faster and less risky.
"Oh this is so exciting, yes!" said Conley. "Theyhad me due for surgery. They called me the night before and they said, 'Howwould you like to try the new one?'"
Conley agreed and has no regrets so far.
"From all of the drugs we've hadavailable, this is one of the new miracle drugs for ophthalmology," said Dr. Richmond.
The FDA says the drug will not work for many people, but for those it does work for?
"It's taken a miserable treatment andmade it very tolerable for the patient," said Dr. Richmond
Days after the procedure, Conley tells us hersight is already improving.
But regulators emphasize that many people will still needsurgery after the injection, so talk with your doctor.
On the web: http://www.centralfloridaretina.com/