WRITER: BECKY SOGLIN
CONTACT: JENNIFER CRONIN
2130 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-6660; fax (319) 335-8034
Release: Aug. 16, 1999
UI invites participants for age-related macular degeneration
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa Health Care
invites physicians and optometrists to refer people with early age-related
macular degeneration (AMD) to participate in a new clinical trial testing
whether laser treatment can prevent severe visual loss in people with the
Approximately 1.7 million Americans have AMD, the
leading cause of severe visual impairment in Americans age 60 and older. In
people with the disease, the earliest changes to the eye are yellow spots
called drusen. The spots develop in the center of the retina, known as the
macula, which is responsible for the clear, central vision used for activities
such as reading, sewing and driving. Some patients with drusen progress to
atrophy of the retina, called dry AMD. Other people with drusen develop new
blood vessels beneath the retina, called wet AMD. Both changes can cause severe
The UI is one of 23 clinical centers nationwide that
will enroll a total of 1,000 patients over the next 18 months in the Complications
of Age-Related Macular Degeneration Prevention Trial (CAPT). The five-year
study is sponsored by the National Eye Institute, which is part of the National
Institutes of Health.
Trial participants will need to travel to the UI for
treatment of one eye with light laser. The procedure is quick and causes little,
if any, discomfort. This treatment has been shown to cause drusen to disappear
and may reduce the risk of future visual loss. Participants will need to return
to the UI for about seven visits over five years.
"Age-related macular degeneration is wreaking havoc
on the vision and quality of life of our older population," said James C.
Folk, M.D., UI professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences, and principal
investigator for the UI portion of the study. "Unless an effective treatment
is found, this situation will only get worse as more Americans reach age 60.
Our current treatments are for the late stages of AMD and have only limited
success. This trial is unique in that it will treat patients at an earlier
stage to try to prevent the later stages and vision loss."
Men and women age 50 and older who have large drusen,
or yellow deposits, in the retinas of both eyes may be eligible for the trial.
Only an eye care professional can verify the presence of the deposits through
a dilated eye exam. In addition, participants must have best corrected vision
of 20/40 or better in each eye, have no other eye disease affecting their
vision, be available for five years of follow-up, and have never received
laser treatment to the macula. There is a small chance the new treatment could
increase the risk of vision loss.
Researchers will share any important information gained
from the study with all CAPT patients, physicians and optometrists, and the
public as soon as it becomes available.
People who are interested in participating in the
study should check with their eye care professionals to see if they meet the
study criteria. Eye care professionals may then contact Steven A. Wallace,
CAPT clinic coordinator for the UI, at (319) 353-6478. Information on CAPT
is also available at the National Eye Institute web site at http://www.nei.nih.gov/neitrials_script/studydtl.asp?id=70.