National Study At Ingalls Compares Treatments for ‘Wet’ Macular Degeneration

Since one energetic 82-year-old woman began receiving injections for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the vision in her right eye has improved

Glee Hibbeler of Palos Hills still reads, drives and regularly socializes with friends and family. Macular degeneration hasn’t slowed her down at all.

That’s because Hibbeler (and dozens like her) is participating in a landmark clinical research study comparing treatments for “wet” AMD through the Irwin Retina Center at Ingalls.

“I can see so much better now,” she said. “I can read the small print on the TV without my glasses; I can see better in traffic. It’s wonderful.”

Ingalls, in collaboration with Illinois Retina Associates, has enrolled more patients than any other site in the nation in the National Eye Institute’s Comparison of Age-Related Macular Degeneration Treatment Trials (CATT) study since it began in early 2008.

“This is a landmark study to compare two medications and different dosing schedules,” explains David Orth, M.D., principal investigator for the CATT study and medical director of the Irwin Retina Center. “We want to know whether Avastin is more effective, less effective or the same as Lucentis. We also want to find out whether treating less frequently than every month can provide the same benefits as treating on a monthly basis.”

According to Genentech-sponsored studies, the recommended treatment is one dose a month for 12 months, but physicians using the two different medications believe patients may benefit just as much from therapy spread out over two or three months.

“Patients being treated for wet macular degeneration don’t see very well,” he explained. “So they rely on someone to bring them in for treatment. If we can treat them less often with an equally effective therapy, that’s a real benefit – both in terms of cost and convenience.”

To date, patients enrolled in the study have shown a favorable response to treatment.

“One of our participants experienced marked vision improvement after only one injection,” Dr. Orth added.

Understanding Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is a disease that damages the macula, the area of the retina responsible for central vision, and is a leading cause of legal blindness among older Americans.

Wet macular degeneration occurs when abnormal blood vessels behind the retina start to grow under the macula. These new blood vessels leak blood and fluid, damaging the macula and causing a rapid loss of vision.

Visual impairment from macular degeneration can lead to loss of independence and a reduced quality of life. The CATT study at Ingalls/Illinois Retina seeks to determine whether the treatment burden for patients can be reduced without compromising effectiveness.

For more information regarding the Comparison of Age-Related Macular Degeneration Treatment Trials, contact Linda Arredondo, R.N., at 708.915.6943.

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