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Triple Threat: New Ways to Fight the "Big Three" Causes of Blindness

Amir Khoshnevis, O.D., has seen plenty of examples of a “routine” eye exam shift in a heartbeat to a moment of discovery. Dr. Khoshnevis – or “Dr. K,” as he’s known by many of his patients, had one such moment when a patient was in his exam chair thinking he just needed new reading glasses.

The Charlotte, N.C., eye doctor peered into his patient’s eyes and saw the telltale signs of early- stage glaucoma. This chronic eye disorder is sneaky – it often displays no symptoms until it robs eyesight from the patient. So sneaky is it that eye doctors have dubbed it “the silent thief of sight.” But, if you catch it early, there’s help.

“That eye exam was extremely important, because the early detection allowed us to begin treatment right away,” says Dr. Khoshnevis “Fortunately, the latest medical research has led to some promising new treatments for glaucoma – including four medications designed to reduce elevated eye pressure on the optic nerve, which is what usually causes the damage to vision.”

That visit was a few years ago. And, Dr. Khoshnevis armed his patient with a new eye drop prescription. It works by helping fluid flow more easily from the eyeball, and that relieves the dangerous pressure on the optic nerve. “This patient continues to enjoy excellent vision today,” says the VSP doctor, “and there’s now little risk that he will lose his vision because of glaucoma.” 

“I think his case is a good example of how the latest research on eye disorders is increasingly helping to protect our patients from disease-related vision loss.”

Along with glaucoma, two other major eye conditions are to blame for the vision loss that affects more than 10 million Americans today. Research is hot on the heels of age-related macular degeneration, or ARMD, and diabetic retinopathy. “Dr. K.” shares more.

Glaucoma: A new generation of medications is helping people combat the disease by lowering eye pressure. In other cases, a laser surgery technique known as trabeculoplasty can unclog the blocked eye-openings and reduce pressure.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD): ARMD usually develops because the light-sensitive cells in the macula area of the retina deteriorate. New treatments with a substance known as Anti-VEGH have proven effective. The treatments can greatly slow, or even slightly reverse, the vision-robbing form of the disease. Other studies show that Anti-VEGF drugs and antibodies, along with a laser procedure called “Photodynamic Therapy” (or PDT) also can slow down ARMD. 

Diabetic Retinopathy: The best way to treat diabetic retinopathy – or damage to the retina – is by controlling the patient’s diabetes. But when there’s already damage, a kind of laser therapy called panretinal laser photocoagulation or PRP can help. Studies have shown that it can stabilize injured tissues and slow further damage.

Source: VSP