Karl Trittner and his wife Hazel had not the foggiest idea that age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is even a disease that they would have to deal with, especially for a 67-year old who earns his livelihood by being a contract draughtsman for an engineering firm.
"When my husband suddenly started to see grey spots and fuzzy lines at the age of 66 one year ago, we simply thought that it must be old age starting to take its inevitable toll on the body," says Hazel Trittner.
"At first he started to experience a grey area in his left eye only. After some months went by and the condition persisted, my husband was referred to Dr Kritzinger at Visiomed by a colleague and friend in February 2009."
Early detection essential to manage the condition
After a complete examination at the old Kenridge Clinic, which included a fluorescein angiogram test, a cataract in his left eye as well as AMD were diagnosed. Karl was advised that essentially the AMD condition needed to be addressed first and foremost before the cataract could be treated where after he was referred to Dr van Wyk.
Karl explains, "Dr van Wyk immediately recommended that I receive three Lucentis injections at monthly intervals. I was very fortunate that my medical aid funded the full treatment without any problem."
"On those days that I have had to receive the injections, I got tremendous support from my workplace in that I was granted sick leave even though I was a contract draughtsman. In terms of the actual injection, it did not cause any discomfort apart from being a little scratchy after the injection, but it was nothing serious. I felt relief after the third treatment and only have three more injections still to be administered."
"I really do need my full eyesight in order to perform my job effectively. My wife has been extremely supportive and because the fuzzy lines that I’m experiencing are even worse at night time, my wife drives me around whenever we need to drive at night."
New treatment offers hope
The condition typically affects older Caucasians and may be hereditary, although in Karl Trittner’s case, his family passed away at a young age and he has no children of his own. Therefore, unfortunately there is no way to trace his family history.
Hazel Trittner reiterates, "Ever since we have had to deal with AMD ourselves, we have been doing our own research to find out everything we can. We have even realised that the condition is more prevalent than we could have imagined. Early detection is the best method to manage this condition and people need to be aware of the warning signs of AMD to get the best treatment possible early enough."
The new anti-angiogenic treatment does offer new hope for patients who like Karl Trittner, are affected by the severe wet form of the disease. Until now, limited treatment for AMD existed, but the first effective registered treatment for Wet AMD is now available in South Africa.
This injection essentially stops the formation and growth of new blood vessels (choroidal Neo Vascularisation – CNV) and actually improves vision in 78% of cases.
Issued by Inzalo Communications on behalf of Novaritis and Retina South Africa