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The Queen's Medical Center

Same Day Surgery Center
New Treatment Slows Age Related Blindness


A ray of light is being cast upon eye disease. A Coherent Opal laser now available at The Same Day Surgery Center at The Queen's Medical Center is used to activate an injection of Visudyne, a drug which slows the effects of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Called photodynamic therapy (PDT), the procedure works only on wet, or neurovascular macular degeneration, the number one cause of blindness in people over age 65.

The macula is the center of the eye's retina and is what allows us to see fine detail. When the macula is damaged, significant vision loss can occur. Prompt treatment is crucial toward preventing total vision loss. While photodynamic therapy does not prevent blindness, it can slow the degenerative process.

The procedure is relatively quick (less than an hour) and painless. An outpatient procedure, it does require follow up and the long-term benefits of treatment are not yet established. After treatment, the patient's skin and eyes will be temporarily photosensitive, and exposure to direct sunlight and bright lights should be avoided.

"This is an exciting time in the field of macular degeneration research," says Ophthalmologist Neal Atebara, MD. "Macular degeneration has been one of ophthalmology's greatest challenges. In the past few years there has been a proliferation of promising new therapies and Queen's has played an active role in its research and treatment." The National Institute of Health- sponsored Submacular Surgery Trials for macular degeneration are located on the Queen's campus. Dr. Atebara is the principal investigator for the Hawai’i research center.

"The facilities for PDT at the Same Day Surgery Center are exceptional and the staff are extremely caring and professional," added Dr. Atebara. "For many patients, this is the only treatment available."

If left untreated, many of the eyes affected with wet AMD will become functionally blind within two years. The cause is unknown and there is as yet no known cure. Heredity seems to play a crucial factor in AMD, and Dr. Atebara urges anyone with AMD in their family to mention this to their eye doctor and be vigilant about regular eye exams.

To receive a free kit to test for age-related macular degeneration, please call the Queen's Referral Line at 808.537.7117. The Referral Line can also assist you with finding an ophthalmologist.


Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday:
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Wednesday:
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(Closed Saturday and Sunday)

 


808.691.4798

 


808.691.7856

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