May 12, 2008

Hope for sufferers of macular degeneration is focus of free public symposium

Boston, MA—Macular degeneration, its causes, current treatments and the latest discoveries for potential cures will be the highlights of the Boston Macular Degeneration Symposium, a free public education program on Wednesday, May 21 from 9 AM to noon in the Starr Center at Schepens Eye Research Institute, 185 Cambridge Street in Boston. Joining forces with world-class vision scientists from the Schepens Institute will be experts from Ophthalmic Consultants of Boston and Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.

Nearly ten million Americans suffer from macular degeneration, which destroys the tiny center of the retina known as the macula along with central vision and a person’s ability to read, drive, recognize faces and see details of any scene. The retina is a thin tissue at the back of the eye that transmits images from the outside world to the brain. The disease comes in a “dry” form for which there is no current treatment and a “wet” form caused by growth of abnormal blood vessels that leak into and damage the delicate retina tissue.

Presentations on May 21 will include an overview by Schepens President Dr. Michael Gilmore of the most exciting research on macular degeneration to date, including regenerative medicine that has the potential through stem cells, transplantation and drug therapies of regrowing damaged human retinas. Dr. Gilmore is also the Charles L. Schepens Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Patricia D'Amore, the Associate Director of Research at Schepens and the Ankeny Scholar of Retinal Molecular Biology, whose research on blood vessel growth (angiogenesis) helped to lay the groundwork for the first anti-angiogenic drugs (Lucentis™ and Macugen) will describe her current research to refine these drugs and eliminate side effects. She will also discuss her exploration of the causes of “dry” macular degeneration and her hope for future treatments that go beyond nutritional supplements and antioxidant cocktails, which may slow the damage but cannot reverse it.

Dr. Mark Hughes, MD, a retinal specialist at Ophthalmic Consultants of Boston will discuss his experience and recommendations for the use of the new drugs and other treatments for “wet” macular degeneration.

Dr. Joseph Rizzo III, MD, director of Neuro Ophthalmology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, will give his clinical perspective on the promise of strategies to regenerate the retina and the optic nerve, the nerve that transmits visual information from the retina to the brain.
To register or for more information about this free event call 1-877-724-3736 or click here

Schepens Eye Research Institute is an affiliate of Harvard Medical School and the largest independent eye research institute in the nation. The Institute fights blindness by developing new technologies, therapies and knowledge to retain and restore vision. Through a continuum of discovery, the Institute works toward a future in which blindness is prevented, alleviated, and, ultimately, cured.

Founded in 1824, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (MEEI) is an independent specialty hospital providing patient care for disorders of the eye, ear, nose, throat, head and neck. MEEI is an international leader in Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology research and a teaching partner of Harvard Medical School. For more information, call 617-523-7900.

Ophthalmic Consultants of Boston (OCB) was founded in 1969 with the primary goal of providing patients with eye care, laser and surgical treatment of the highest quality. Their staff of 26 ophthalmologists cares for over 150,000 patients each year with all categories of eye disorders and visual system diseases. This level of care has earned Ophthalmic Consultants of Boston a national and international reputation for excellence.


Contact: Patti Jacobs,
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