More treatment and ongoing research provide hope for people with macular degeneration
If the diagnosis had come in the 1990s, she probably would be legally blind today. Instead, the Winter Haven resident said, she continues driving, crocheting and knitting without noticeable loss of vision.
She’s not quilting as much but several of her six great-grandchildren, ranging in age from 3 months to 12 years, have puffy quilts decorated by letters of the alphabet that she made for them.
“So far, my life is the same,” said Bolick, who’s 87. “I have not had any problem doing any of those hobbies.”
The past decade made quite a difference in transforming wet age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), the most serious type, from a condition certain to destroy central vision to one in which many patients keep their sight.
That’s due in large part to the success of three drugs – Avastin (bevacizumab), Lucentis (ranibizumab) and Eylea (aflibercept) – now used routinely for treating wet macular degeneration.
“This is a big improvement over where we were 15 years ago,” said Dr. Richard Hamilton, ophthalmologist, retina specialist and researcher at Center for Retina and Macular Disease, which has research sites in Winter Haven and Lakeland.
Each drug targets vascular endothelial growth factor, a protein involved in the abnormal blood vessels, so they’re called anti-VEGF drugs. They help limit abnormal blood vessels and leaking in the eye.
“Nine times out of 10 we can hold onto the vision you have,” said Dr. Neil Okun, the ophthalmologist treating Bolick at Eye-Specialists of Mid-Florida in Winter Haven.