Health Report 4/03/13 Saving sight without surgery: macular holes

April 3rd, 2013

While surgery used to be their only option, something new is giving patients a first of a kind alternative.
Lou Baxter has the story.

They happen when fibers in the eye pull away and tear the retina. Macular holes can threaten vision and force people to go under the knife to save their sight. While surgery used to be their only option, something new is giving patients a first-of-its-kind alternative.

While cruising the Caribbean, Catherine Brown realized what she thought had been a problem with her TV, was actually a problem with her eyes.

Catherine brown, had macular holes, "It just wasn't going away, and I couldn't blame the television anymore. It was me. It was clearly me."

She had macular holes, small breaks in the center of the retina that cause blind spots and visual distortions.

Julia A. Haller, MD, ophthalmologist-in-chief, Wills Eye Institute says: "They notice that it's almost like a fun house mirror effect sometimes when they look at people."

Catherine Brown, "mouths would be like this, it was unbelievable."

in the past the only option for patients was surgery, but doctor Julia Haller says a drug recently approved by the FDA could help them avoid it.

Dr. Haller, "It's really, it's miraculous."


Jetrea is injected directly into the eye. It basically breaks down proteins that cause the condition. Two clinical studies showed the drug closed macular holes in 26-percent of participants. That's one in four patients who didn't need surgery.

Dr. Haller, "It's like night and day. Within a few days, your symptoms are gone. You've got recovery of vision."

Catherine Brown, "It was phenomenal that, um, I released as quickly as I did."


Catherine's macular holes are healed. Now this church pianist doesn't have to pray for a miracle.



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