Technique Helps Macular Degeneration Patients

Web Producer: Brad Maglinger

A refined surgical technique, called macular translocation, is helping some patients with macular degeneration regain their vision.

In macular translocation, surgeons rotate the retina so that the macula, the central part of the retina, is moved away from scar tissue and abnormal blood vessels that cause vision loss.

The technique was pioneered by an eye surgeon at Duke University. Now, a refined version of the surgery is showing better results with a lower rate of the most common complication, retinal detachment. Other risks of the procedure include double vision, bleeding, and infection.

Doctors say in many cases, patients have regained even their fine detail vision.

Candidates for the surgery must have advanced macular degeneration with vision loss in both eyes. Patients must also undergo a second surgery to correct tilted vision they're left with after the rotation surgery. That procedure involves adjusting some of the muscles that hold the eye in place, and is typically done about two months after macular translocation.

Macular degeneration affects more than ten million Americans and is the leading cause of blindness in this country according to the American Macular Degeneration Foundation.

The leading risks for macular degeneration are family history and smoking.

The Duke study is published in the American Journal of Opthalmology.