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Unique use of drug saves eyesight

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The drug Avastin has been used to save the eyesight of two patients with Sorsby’s Fundus Dystrophy (SFD), a rare form of macular degeneration, an ophthalmologist has revealed.

Professor Andrew Lotery said it is the first time the rare genetic condition has been treated with the drug - the sight of the two patients, who are both just in their 30s, had deteriorated so much that their vision had become blurred.

Avastin stops blood vessels from growing and helps prevent bleeding. The condition of patients with “wet” age-related macular degeneration - the predominant cause of blindness in over-50s in Western countries - generally improves when the drug is injected into their eyes.

However patients with Sorsby’s were beginning to lose their eyesight in their 40s or 50s mainly because new blood vessels were developing in the eye.

Professor Lotery, a consultant ophthalmologist at Southampton General Hospital, whose findings have been published in the US journal Retinal Cases & Brief Reports, said: “As patients in the past have not responded well to treatments for SFD (Sorsby’s Fundus Dystrophy) and because the mutations that lead to the condition are still not yet fully understood, we wanted to investigate other methods of treatment, including the use of bevacizumab (Avastin).”

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