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Question:
My father-in-law has macular degeneration that started about eight years ago. He has seen several eye specialists with no positive prognosis. I understand through information posted on the Internet that a retinal transplant procedure may benefit his current condition. He is totally blind in the left eye, however his right eye is 20/400. Any help, answers, and direction would be greatly appreciated.

Answer:
Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in elderly people. There are new therapies that can prevent severe visual loss in most patients and improve vision in about one third of patients, but these treatments are most effective when they are started early in the course of the disease. For people with advanced disease these treatments are often not helpful. It is very unusual to become "totally blind" (no perception of light) from age-related macular degeneration, and most people maintain peripheral vision which allows them to ambulate, but not read or drive. With a vision of 20/400 in the right eye, your father-in-law may benefit from low vision aids. He should be evaluated by a low vision specialist. There has been some promising preliminary research concerning stem cell treatments in animals, but a true retina transplant is not available. Another promising area is artificial vision with a retina implant, but unfortunately this is also years away.

Answered by: George Williams, MDDr. George Williams

Categories: Eye Diseases, Eye Surgery, Eye Conditions

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Answered: Nov 23, 2010

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