The iWand Effectively Simplifies Treatment of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Age-Related Macular Degeneration: a not-so-familiar term for many, but a common condition nonetheless. Take note of the macula in the anatomy of the eye to your right — the macula is a small, sensitive area near the center of the retina along the back of the eye, responsible for allowing us to see objects that are in front of us. It is at the center of our visual field. Comprised of millions of light-detecting cells, the macula is a critical in providing sharp and detailed central vision for everyday tasks such as reading, cooking, and driving. 

So, what happens when this area becomes damaged?

When the macula begins to degenerate, blurry, distorted, or dark areas in the center of vision occur, which can often progress to blindness in the elderly. While it can occur in younger patients, Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness among Americans 60 years of age and older. For American patients between 75 to 85 years of age, the prevalence of AMD increases to 30%. While painless, this disease can progress slow for some, and fast for others. Risk factors for AMD include:

  • Smoking: Scientific research has supported that smokers have at least double the risk of AMD when compared to non-smokers.
  • Race: Caucasians are more commonly found to be at risk for AMD when compared to African-Americans or Hispanics and Latinos.
  • Genetics and Family History: Scientific research has identified 20 genes that can affect the risk of developing AMD, and those who have a family history of AMD are at a higher risk than those without family history.

Early AMD, intermediate AMD, and late AMD are the three stages of severity for the disease. For the late stage, there are two types: dry AMD, where vision loss occurs as a result of the breakdown of light-detecting cells in the macula, and wet AMD, where the macula is damaged as a result of abnormal blood vessels growing and swelling underneath the retina. While it is possible to have both dry and wet AMD, the latter is the more severe condition.

Whether you are afflicted by macular degeneration or are a curious researcher, you may be wondering what treatment methods are offered for this disease. Unfortunately, there is no known cure — however, like insulin for diabetes, there are treatment options available to reduce one’s risk and progression of macular degeneration. Simple lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise can offer as preventative measures, but what is the next step? How can patients afflicted with worsening vision be treated in a visit to their doctor? These are the questions that guided Liberty Vision’s development of the iWand, a treatment device that uses radiation to save loss of vision from wet AMD.

 

The iWand: a Simple Yet Highly Effective Device for Treating Wet AMD

According to Liberty Vision, a company directed by the pioneering medical techniques of CEO, Dr. Paul T. Finger, the iWand “enables practitioners to deliver a prescribed dose of radiation to the macula of affected patients. The iWand features a disc-shaped radioactive element at the distal end of the hand-held delivery system. In addition, the iWand is able to emit multiple points of light from the periphery of the tip that are visible through the sclera (as seen through the pupil). These are used to positively locate the radiation treatment zone relative to the macula. The key benefit this provides to the doctor is an accurate, safe, and effective system for delivering radiation to a targeted zone defined by the shape of radiation source and clearly positionable by viewing the peripheral light points.”

The iWand allows doctors to take a tremendous leap forward in the field of ocular care, not only in the United States, but internationally as well. Indeed, with its most recent patent being registered in Israel, the patented device will be available across the world.

 

To learn more about the iWand, visit Liberty Vision’s website here. And to stay tuned on all the latest news in ocular care, be sure to keep eyecancer.com in your bookmarks!


NGO in India Promotes World Retinoblastoma Awareness Week

Retinoblastoma (RB) is the most common eye cancer in children, affecting approximately 8,000 of them each year. In developed countries like the United States, the survival rate reaches beyond an astounding 96%, with early diagnosis and treatment being key to saving a patient’s life and sight. However, this incidence rate is higher in developing countries, where most of the children succumb to metastatic retinoblastoma. In areas where children and families have no means of travel to treatment centers far away from them, these afflicted children often endure their disease untreated until there is very little hope for them left. Because no child or family should have to suffer these losses, especially due to the simple inability to reach proper care, The Eye Cancer Foundation has launched the 2020 Campaign, a campaign dedicated to training ophthalmic oncologists to serve in underprivileged countries.

One such underprivileged area is India, a country populated by over 1.32 billion people and counting, where 1,500 of the global 8,000 retinoblastoma cases are diagnosed every year. However, the reality persists that many cases of retinoblastoma go undetected or unreported in India, and awareness for the disease is abysmally low in rural areas. Motivated by India’s need to increase awareness and treatment for this disease, The Eye Cancer Foundation has sponsored fellowships for three doctors from India to train with Dr. Paul T. Finger at The New York Eye Cancer Center over the last year alone — Dr. Sonal S. Chaugule, Dr. Abhilasha Maheshwari, and Dr. Puneet Jain.

After the successful completion of her NYECC-ECF fellowship in Summer 2017, Dr. Chaugule returned to her native Maharashtra, India. She currently employs her expertise in retinoblastoma care by consulting at HV Desai Eye Hospital, a critical center for eye cancer patients in Pune, India. Her continued efforts to raise awareness in this vastly unrecognized disease have led to her medical advice being featured across Indian news media. According to Dr. Chaugule in The Indian Express, “Awareness about retinoblastoma is low and early detection is crucial to give the best chance of saving the child’s life, eye, and vision. Early detection and proper treatment will ensure 95% of the children diagnosed with RB are saved from death, 90% have their eye intact and 85% have their vision protected.

Unfortunately, in India, a child is taken to an eye specialist only when there is any notable problem, which makes treatment of RB at a later stage much harder,” she said.

Dr. Chaugule suggests that systemized screening of the eye for any abnormality in infants and toddlers should be made mandatory. Additionally, it is crucial that all doctors and healthcare professionals, whether they be eye cancer specialists or not, ought to be deeply sensitized to this disease’s magnitude.

In response to India’s growing need for retinoblastoma care, The Iksha Foundation, a non-governmental organization based in Benglauru, has accelerated their programs to raise awareness for the disease so that children may be diagnosed early enough to save their livees. Founder and trustee at the Iksha Foundation, Thanmaya Bekkalale, says, “We only know the reported cases of retinoblastoma — there are numerous cases that go unreported. The need of the hour is to spread individual and societal awareness about retinoblastoma and promote early detection as it is documented that every day, four children are born with eye cancer in India, and one of them is facing death as a result of diagnosis at an advanced stage, or not diagnosed at all.”

To raise awareness, May 13th through 19th were observed as World Retinoblastoma Awareness Week. The Iksha Foundation will hold awareness programs, ensuring that their various stakeholders will understand that early diagnosis is crucial to saving the lives of children throughout India.

Read the article published in The Indian Express by Dr. Chaugule and her colleagues at HV Desai Eye Hospital here.

To stay up-to-date on the latest news in eye cancer, please keep our website, eyecancer.com, in your bookmarks.


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"Very well treated by Dr. Finger. He explained everything I needed to know about my issue with detail and attention, putting me at ease and giving me confidence to handle this problem for the rest of my life.”
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