Better Macular Degeneration Diagnoses
Reported March 2007
NEW YORK (Ivanhoe Broadcast News) -- For many people, getting older comes with the dread of age-related health problems, and loss of vision is one of the most common ones. But a new, high-tech test is changing the way eye doctors diagnose their patients.
Eighty-seven-year-old doctor Paul Singer drives everywhere, everyday. "Driving is a very important part of your life when you live in the suburbs," he says.
But a couple of years ago, Singer started losing his vision and had to stop driving. "It's a tremendous handicap," he says. "It's very depressing. It's something that you have to adjust to."
Singer had age-related macular degeneration. AMD affects the macula in the center of the retina and is responsible for central vision. We use it most when driving or reading.
For years Singer was told he had an early stage of the disease. But then treatments failed.
"Well, he wasn't being misdiagnosed. We knew that he had a form of macular degeneration. But he had what's called an occult macular degeneration," ophthalmologist Richard Rosen, M.D., tells Ivanhoe.
The occult form is a slow-leaking, wet version of AMD.
Dr. Rosen, Vice Chairman of the Department of Opthamology at New York Eye & Ear Infirmary, had a hard time detecting the less-common form of the disease using standard scans. Now, a new scanning laser ophthalmoscope (SLO) gives in-depth images of the retina's surface, and the optical coherence tomography (OCT) shows cross-sections of the same location.
Individually, the tests are limiting, but "two instruments together allow us to correlate the surface detail with the internal detail," Dr. Rosen says.
Using the OCT/SLO imager led to a different diagnosis for Singer. And with the right medicine, he recouped about 80 percent of his vision. "It has made a difference in my life in the sense that I can resume my life as I had been living it," he says. Now he's back to driving and reading his daily paper, tasks he has newfound appreciation for.
The combined OCT/SLO technology is becoming more widely available. So far, several hospitals in New York, Pennsylvania and California have it. It is covered by most insurance.
Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:
Richard Rosen, M.D.
New York Eye and Ear Infirmary
New York, NY
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