About Amy Umble:
Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star

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Injections rather than lasers: A change for patients with macular degeneration

Dr. Mark Johnson, a Fredericksburg retina specialist.

I remember interviewing a Spotsylvania man several years ago who was getting laser treatments for macular degeneration, a progressive eye disease that is the leading cause of vision loss.

The man was unhappy with the treatments. He believed that they created black spots in his field of vision, actually making it worse.

I thought about him in recent weeks as I worked on a story about a relatively new treatment for macular degeneration.  For the last several years, patients with this condition have been receiving injections in the eye, rather than laser treatments. (It looks like torture, but patients say it doesn’t hurt.) The injections with a drug called Avastin stop the bleeding from vessels in the back of the eye beneath the retina. They are effective at stopping the progression of the disease in almost all patients and actually improve vision in about a third of patients.

“It’s totally revolutionized the way that we take care of these conditions,” said Dr. Mark Johnson, a Fredericksburg retina specialist .

Added Dr. Binoy Jani, a Fredericksburg ophthalmologist, “Retina specialists, every day their office hours are full of these injections.”

I like what I do, but I like it best when I get to report on medical advances like this one.

(My story, with more details about macular degeneration and its treatment, will appear soon in our paper.)