Are you at risk for macular degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of permanent vision loss in Canada for individuals aged 50 years and older. Due to Canada’s aging population, annually diagnosed cases of AMD are expected to triple in the next 20 years. Recent studies suggest that for the first time, treatment of dry AMD may now be possible.

"Dry AMD occurs when small deposits, called drusen, form in the tissue just below the retina," says Dr. David Eldridge, an international specialist in the field. "This gradually worsening condition can cause a significant loss of central vision, noticed by patients as a constant blur, or a distortion of the objects they see. Over time this degeneration can severely compromise one’s independence, where simple tasks like driving, writing, reading street signs, labels, and medication instructions, may no longer be possible."

While doctors debate the exact cause of dry AMD, they agree that those most at risk are:

• Seniors, especially women 50-plus
• Seniors, with a genetic or family predisposition to the condition
• Smokers, a habit that more than quadruples he risk
• Sun worshippers
• Bad eaters, or those who pay little attention to nutrition.

If you notice symptoms such as central distortion, difficulty in making out shapes and colours, or your new eyeglass prescription doesn’t work, you may be experiencing the early stages of dry AMD and symptoms may gradually get worse over time.

New treatment available in Canada
"Using patented filtering technology, a revolutionary new treatment called the RHEO Procedure, removes the particles that are found in drusen associated with dry AMD from your blood plasma," Dr. Eldridge explained. "The procedure is as safe and as easy as giving blood."

During the RHEO procedure, here’s what to expect:

• An intravenous (IV) device is placed in each forearm;
• In a sterile closed circuit, your blood is circulated from one arm, through a dual-filter filtration system, and returned to your body through the second arm;
• The filtration process removes high molecular weight proteins and other macromolecules that are theorized to be at the source of AMD development;
• Each RHEO procedure lasts approximately 2-3 hours.

"In other words, your blood goes out of one arm and into the other," Dr. Eldridge explained. "In the two- to three-hour period, the goal is to filter 100 percent of the blood volume, but with never more than 10 percent of it outside your body at any given time."

If you have Dry AMD or think you may be at risk for developing it, contact your eye doctor or visit for further information about the procedure.