Meet the patients: Bill Organ
Seven years ago, Bill Organ was diagnosed with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in his left eye.
His GP referred him to Professor Andrew Lotery at Southampton Eye Unit and he began treatment, which, at that time, involved using a laser to cauterise the leaking blood vessel and halt the progress of the AMD.
Although this stopped his left eye deteriorating further, Bill, from Winchester, was left with permanent scarring on this eye, which affected his vision.
Luckily his other eye fully compensated for the poor vision in his left eye, but three years ago he noticed the same symptoms starting on the right side.
Bill immediately returned to Professor Lotery and learnt that a new treatment had been developed. Avastin, a drug originally designed to treat colon cancer, could be injected directly into the eye to stop the growth of the blood vessels causing the AMD.
Every six weeks, Bill had an Avastin injection, which significantly slowed the deterioration of his eyesight.
After 15 injections, another new drug, Lucentis, became available, and he switched treatments. Lucentis works on the same principle as Avastin, but this time, after just three injections, the leakage of the blood vessel had been halted.
Bill said: “Although this treatment can’t restore my eyesight completely, it has made a significant improvement. In good light I can still read fairly easily. I was given an iPod for Christmas last year, so I’ve been making the most of the Hampshire libraries’ great audio book service.
“There was a period when I did not drive, but following the new treatment I am comfortably within the eyesight standards.”
Now, 66-year-old Bill sees Professor Lotery every four weeks. If there are any signs that the problem might be returning, he is given another Lucentis injection.
Bill also helps fund ongoing research into these treatments by fundraising for Professor Lotery’s Gift of Sight Appeal.
First published in Connect issue 23.