Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood on May 05, 2012

Sources

Verle Mickish, Professor Emeritus, Artist-Illustrator Daniel F. Martin, MD, Retinal Specialist, Emory Eye Center, Atlanta.

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Video Transcript

Jenny Mickish: He says that his eye injection had better be painless

Verle Mickish: (laughs) My wife and I have been married for 50 years now..she's been my sweetheart all the way through

Narrator: Art professor Verle Mickish and his wife Ginny are looking at a visual history—cartoons he drew of his two year struggle to regain his sight. In 2003 his right eye developed wet age-related macular degeneration, in which abnormal blood vessels leak fluid into the back of the eye. The result can be permanent blindness.

Verle Mickish: I went into the bathroom to shave and I looked into the mirror and it was just a gray ghost looking back at me, I couldn't see my eyes, nose or anything.

Narrator: Both eyes had already been treated for dry macular degeneration, a more common form of the disease—which can produce a loss of central vision. To think of never painting again was devastating.

Verle Mickish: p begin="00:01:02.00" dur="00:00:09.00">I had retired in order to work on my children's books and to do illustrations and here this was passing very rapidly.

Doctor: And look way down and look left

Narrator: Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in adults over 60.

Verle Mickish: Macular degeneration you don't play around with, if you see wavy lines or you start to get this feeling of a cloud or it's getting grey, you need to get to your eye doctor.

Narrator: Verle was lucky. Out of 100 Emory Eye Center applicants, he was one of five chosen for a clinical trial of Lucentis, a new drug just approved by the FDA to treat the wet form of the disease. Each month for 2 years Verle received an injection directly into his eye—and miraculously his vision slowly returned.

Daniel F. Martin, MD: All done, you did great. Thank you. The really striking finding in both the Lucentis trials was that about 35 and 40 percent of patients actually had a 3-line visual acuity improvement. The best that had ever been seen prior to that was only 6 percent. Yes this looks very good… there's no fluid under the retina, no blood

Narrator: Verle doesn't take his good fortune for granted. He takes special vitamins, eats a lot of greens, protects his eyes from the sun, and for now, returns every six weeks for a check up.

Daniel F. Martin, MD: We don't know exactly what to expect because this is all brand new.

Narrator: And he has some advice for the rest of us aging baby boomers who may be facing macular degeneration:

Verle Mickish: Don't get negative. Negative causes other negative people to surround you. Positive attitude brings other positive people into your life and that's very important.

Narrator: For WebMD, I'm Sandee LaMotte.