Durham, N.C. — Affecting one in five people over age 70, macular degeneration is the most common cause of vision loss, but until recently, there was no drug available to combat it. Newly developed eye injections, however, are allowing patients with the most severe form of the disease to maintain their sight longer.
Enjoying golf is an important part of retirement for Lou Giglio, 69, but he almost had to give up on it.
"I couldn't see the golf ball I had to hit," Giglio said.
His vision became blurred due to cataracts in both eyes, so he had surgery to correct it. The procedure worked great for his left eye, but in his right, he said, "things just weren't that spectacular."
A retina specialist at Duke University Medical Center discovered the problem – the beginning of a wet macular.
"It's an aging disease," said Duke ophthamologist Dr. Nora Lad.
The wet form of macular degeneration causes blood to leak out of vessels and build up under the surface of the retina, in the central area of vision.
An early diagnosis gave Giglio more options, including new drugs that are injected into the eye to delay or prevent further fluid build-up and vision loss.
"There's no pain," Giglio said. "(Just) discomfort while your eye is getting rid of the anesthesia."
He now gets monthly injections of Eyelea and continues to hit the golf course.
"He has a very good prognosis," Ladd said. "With frequent follow-ups and very careful follow-ups, he has an excellent prognosis."
Giglio can see a difference, too.
"My vision is really good," he said. "My vision is excellent."