The leading cause of severe vision loss in people over age 50 is macular degeneration. Nearly 15 million Americans have it. They lose their central vision and are left with only peripheral sight. Some patients have what's called the "wet type," meaning blood vessels in the eye bleed or leak. There is no cure but now, an experimental treatment at Emory Clinic in Atlanta, Georgia is shining some light on the disease. Doctors say it's early, but they're optimistic.
"That is a device that is inserted behind the eye in a brief surgical procedure that then delivers a dose of radiation to the macula in the back of the eye." "We are seeing a definite reduction in the leakage, a reduction in the blood vessel growth and improvement in vision," says Baker Hubbard M.D. a retina specialist.
Doctor Hubbard says he uses a low dose of radiation, so surrounding areas of the eye are not damaged. One of those patients, Nancy Settlemyre, says she can see a big difference. Before, this flower would have been a black spot to her. Now, it is a vibrant yellow. Only about 20 patients have been treated in the United States so far.