Eye injections reversing macular degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in older adults. There is no cure, but there are treatments to slow or even reverse its progression, including injections into the eyes.

Donald LeJeune of Jennings is a 76-year-old that still goes full speed between work and chores at home.  So when he started losing vision in his right eye, he knew he needed a fix.  "It was blurred, the right eye was really blurry," he said.

Ophthalmologist Virgil Murray at The Eye Clinic diagnosed LeJeune with macular degeneration, a common condition that happens when blood vessels in the back of the eye start leaking.  "In the angiogram images of Mr. LeJeune's right eye, you can see all of this white build-up of fluid that should not be there," said Dr. Murray.

Macular degeneration gradually destroys the macula, the tiny part of the eye controlling central vision.  "It affects only the central vision.  It does not affect your peripheral vision, so you would not go completely blind from something like this, but it would hinder your ability to read," said Dr. Murray.

There is no cure for macular degeneration, but the latest treatment to slow or even reverse it is a drug injected directly into the eye that stops the leakage.  "It gives the body a chance to heal and once it gets a chance to heal, the leak won't come back most of the time and the body can then help heal itself," said Dr. Murray.

LeJeune has had a total of six eye injections since November and says it was not painful.  "You feel it when it goes into your eye and you can see when he sprays that medication in there, but as far as hurting," he said, "no more than a shot in the arm."

Now LeJeune is seeing much more clearly and says office work and yard work are better thanks to his restored sight.  "Before I couldn't even see where I was passing in the yard with my mower, but after the injections I could," he said, "it made a big difference."

There are two types of macular degeneration: a wet and dry version.  LeJeune had wet macular degeneration, which accounts for about 10 percent of the cases.

Copyright KPLC 2012.  All rights reserved.