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Maculopathy, with drugs only 6-8% of patients lose their sight

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“Macular degeneration due to age affects 50% of the population over 65-70 years, but thanks to new pharmacological treatments only 6-8% report a visual loss. However, the disease can appear already after 55 years. Smoking is the main risk factor because maculopathy affects the very small vessels of the retina, so you have to be very careful “. Thus Edoardo Midena, general secretary of the Italian Society of the retina, on the occasion of the Sir National Congress which took place in Venice from 1 to 2 July to take stock of screening, risk factors and differential diagnoses of pathologies affecting the retina, but also to talk about novelties from a therapeutic and surgical point of view. “Age-related maculopathy is widespread in the older population – says Midena, who is also director of the School of Specialization in Ophthalmology of the University of Padua – but retinal lesions can appear even earlier, or above age 55. There is no typical patient identikit, anyone over the age of 65 can be affected by aging-related maculopathy. Symptoms occur late, when the disease is already there, and include: reduced vision , distortion of images (the profile of the door is no longer straight and the lines of a text in a newspaper or a book make ‘waves’). In this case the signs of the disease, if one looks inside the eye, they have been there for a long time. Furthermore, it is good to know that maculopathy can also affect healthy subjects, that is, who are not subjected to other therapies because they do not have any type of disorder “. The eye examination, periodic checks based on the initial state and diagnostic screening “to exclude that there are other problems besides a maculopathy”, warns Midena who adds: “We are still in a phase in which photos are important, they tell us if there is something, but they are not enough. We must focus more on diagnostic technology, especially in this period to make up for lost time. It is essential to use the Oct. During the various lockdowns these patients, as well as all people with a pathology of the retina, they remained ‘in the dark’. For over a year, unfortunately, the eyes were not considered clinically important. ” Macular degeneration can be cured. “If up to 10 years ago nothing could be done – underlines the secretary general of SIR – thanks to the new categories of drugs that are administered directly into the eye, the disease is blocked. These are the so-called intravitreal drugs that are increasingly effective and safe, but that if taken generally they would have enormous side effects on patients because they were initially studied and developed for oncological diseases, not for ocular diseases. Instead, at the appropriate doses – and already extensively studied – once injected directly into the eye they are able to block the evolution of the disease. These drugs are today the most important weapon: they can also be injected once a month for the first 3 months, then every 2-3 months. For the patient a long-lasting therapy, but easier to follow “. Several novelties emerged from the SIR Congress precisely in the therapeutic field. “We are trying to elaborate protocols – concludes Midena – so that the therapy does not interfere too much in people’s lives. In other words, we are studying the possibility of carrying out a balanced number of injections to be performed in facilities that allow treatment and return. In addition, we doctors want to be ready, although we will not have a recurring pandemic for statistical reasons, to avoid the blackout that we have had in addition to the lockdown for these therapies “.

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