Retinal Disease Treatments for Elders Doubled Over 10 Years

MONDAY, Oct. 11, 2010 (HealthDay News) — The number of older Americans undergoing treatment for retinal conditions such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy nearly doubled between 1997 and 2007, with a significant shift in the types of procedures being performed, a new study has found.

The largest increase in volume was seen in treatments for neovascular, or “wet,” AMD. New treatments for this condition include intravitreal therapy — drug injections directly into the eye — of antibodies that block the formation of new blood vessels. Between 1997 and 2001, fewer than 5,000 such injections were performed each year, but rates more than doubled each year through 2006. In 2007, there were 812,413 such injections, the study authors noted in a news release from the journal’s publisher.

The use of photodynamic therapy — a laser treatment for neovascular AMD — peaked at 133,565 procedures in 2004 and then decreased 83 percent to 22,675 procedures in 2007. Laser treatment of potentially cancerous eye tumors and the “wet” form of AMD decreased from a peak of 82,089 in 1999 to 13,821 in 2007 (another 83 percent decrease), the researchers found.

Among the other findings:

  • Use of vitrectomy — surgery to remove the gel inside the eye in order to treat retinal detachment — increased 72 percent between 1997 and 2007.
  • The use of scleral buckling — placement of a silicon buckle around the eye — to treat retinal detachment decreased 69 percent between 1997 and 2007.




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