Sue is no stranger to vision problems. I watched her mother, Alice, lose her sight wet age-related macular degenerationIt is a disease of the part of the eye that provides sharp central vision.
She saw her mother struggle with the daily effects of vision loss. You couldn’t drive. Then she couldn’t bake. Drawing china—one of her favorite hobbies, with its fine lines and subtle precision—was out of the question.
Watching her mother’s fading vision, Sue couldn’t help but wonder if she was looking forward to her future.
Years later, Sue began seeing wavy lines on her alarm clock and computer. A retina specialist confirmed her concerns and diagnosed her with the same condition as her mother’s eye: wet AMD.
AMD . burden
wet AMD is a leading cause of blindness for people over the age of 60 in the United States and can cause rapid and severe vision loss. Older people, especially women, are at risk of developing it. Other risk factors for wet AMD include a family history of the condition as well as race and smoking.
said Carlos Quezada Ruiz, senior medical director of ophthalmology at Genentech, a biotech company that develops drugs to treat seriously affected people. Medical conditions, including wet AMD. “The impact of vision loss places an enormous physical, mental and emotional burden on patients and their loved ones.”
Soon after being diagnosed with AMD, Sue sought care and found a treatment plan that helped her improve her eyesight, which Sue’s daughter Rachel said was a relief.
Watching my grandmother’s vision disappear was heartbreaking,” Rachel said. “I’m grateful if my mum had found treatment earlier, so she didn’t have to lose her independence like my grandmother did.”
Preserving eyesight with science
Although Sue lives with the same retinal disease as her mother, Alice, the decades separating her diagnoses have made all the difference. Sue remembers her mother toiling to find treatment, conduct research, visit retinal specialists, and call doctors. “She told me she would pray every night for a cure and that someone would come up with something,” Sue said.
However, every path that Alice took was a dead end. I’ve heard over and over that nothing can be done. She was blind, and was told that no one could stop her.
But now, after two decades of medical advances, Sue has options to help save her sight.
“There have been major recent discoveries and innovations in wet AMD care that have helped millions of people improve and maintain their vision,” said Dr. Quezada Ruiz. “In the past year or so, we’ve seen new treatments available that can help make care more affordable for patients.”
After the diagnosis of AMD, Sue began injecting anti-vascular endothelial growth factor into her left eye. Next, she entered a clinical trial for a treatment that would deliver the drug in her right eye. Reflecting on her decision to take part in the trial, she said her mother “would have seized an opportunity like this”, to have the opportunity to preserve her vision and preserve her independence.
With her improved eyesight, Sue can continue to sew, read, garden, and keep up with her 28 grandchildren and great-grandchildren—and looks forward to what comes next.
Learn more about wet AMD and other retinal conditions at Gene.com/eye.