Penn State Hershey researcher develops test for macular degeneration


Uploaded by PennStateHershey on 20.02.2012

Transcript:
It's a disease that affects some 13 million Americans and yet 85 percent of them don't
even know that they have it.
It's called Macular Degeneration.
MACULAR DEGENERATION IS THE LEADING CAUSE OF IRREVERSIBLE BLINDNESS AMONG OLDER ADULTS
OVER THE AGE OF 65 IN THE WESTERN WORLD. IT'S A PROGRESSIVE CHRONIC DISEASE IN WHICH THE
CENTRAL PART OF YOUR VISION, THE PART OF VISION WE USE FOR READING, SEEING PEOPLE'S FACES,
OR DRIVING DETERIORATES.
Unlike glaucoma, which affects about 4 million Americans, macular degeneration is an especially
challenging disease because it can come on so slowly and gets confused with the normal
aging process.
IF YOU HAVE A SUDDEN DECREASE IN YOUR ABILITY TO READ, ONLY BAD THINGS CAUSE THAT. THAT'S
NOT YOUR PRESCRIPTION NORMALLY CHANGING.
IF YOU'RE LOOKING AT A PIECE OF GRAPH PAPER AND SOME OF THE LINES IN THE PERIPHERY OF
THAT GRAPH OFF TO THE SIDES, IF YOU VISION BECOMES WAVY WHEN YOU KNOW THAT THEY'RE SUPPOSED
TO BE STRAIGHT, THAT'S A CLASSIC SYMPTOM OF HAVING BLEEDING IN THE EYE.
Right now, there is no cure for macular degeneration. Until now, there wasn't even a test for it.
That's about to change. Dr. Jackson's team found an early warning symptom that largely
goes unnoticed: Night vision, or to be more precise, the gradual loss of it.
Think of going from bright sunlight into a darkened movie theater. How long does it take
your eyes to adjust?
Researchers found that the cells responsible for night vision are affected by macular degeneration
long before and more severely than those that enable sight during the day. But they weren't
being tested.
And so the team developed screening technology to measure that adjustment period. The patient
sees a flash of light and then pushes a button when they see a more faint green light.
FOR SOMEONE THAT'S A YOUNGER PERSON, IT TAKES 8 MINUTES TO COMPLETE THE TEST. AND FOR SOMEONE
WHO'S SLIGHTLY OLDER, IT MAY TAKE 9 MINUTES TO COMPLETE THE TEST. AT THE EARLIEST STAGE
OF THIS DISEASE, IT MAY TAKE 16 MINUTES TO COMPLETE THE TEST AND IF YOU HAVE THE LATE
STAGE DISEASE, IT CAN TAKE AN HOUR TO 90 MINUTES TO COMPLETE THE TEST.
The screening will be widely available soon.
I THINK EVERY PATIENT OVER THE AGE OF FIFTY SHOULD BE SCREENED ON A YEARLY BASIS FOR THIS
DISEASE AND USING A FIVE MINUTE SCREENING TEST AS PART OF YOUR NORMAL EYE EXAM WOULD
BE A WAY TO IDENTIFY THESE PATIENTS EARLY AND THERE'S GREAT HOPE FOR THE FUTURE.
Early detection could help to arrest the disease that causes so much damage to so many people.
By 2040, 33 million people could be impacted by macular degeneration.