News Releases

July 29, 1999

Patients Needed for Study on Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Emory Eye Center is recruiting patients for a national clinical trial to determine whether laser treatment decreases vision loss for individuals who may be at risk for severe age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

AMD is a common eye disease of the macula, a tiny area in the retina that helps produce sharp, central vision required for "straight ahead" activities such as reading, sewing, and driving. A person with AMD -- the leading cause of severe visual impairment in Americans 60 years of age and older -- loses this clear, central vision. An estimated 1.7 million Americans have AMD.

The clinical trial, called the Complications of Age-Related Macular Degeneration Prevention Trial (CAPT), is designed to assess the safety and effectiveness of low intensity laser treatment. Researchers hope to determine if low intensity laser treatment might prevent disease progression and loss of vision in people who are at risk for severe AMD. The CAPT will enroll a total of 1,000 patients at Emory and 22 other clinical centers across the United States during an 18-month period. The trial will last at least five years and is sponsored by the National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the Federal government's National Institutes of Health. Retina surgeon Paul Sternberg Jr., MD, is principal investigator of the Emory trial.

All patients in the trial will have one eye treated with the laser and one eye not treated. The procedure takes only a few minutes and causes little, if any, discomfort. Both eyes will be carefully monitored throughout the trial to evaluate any eye or vision problems and determine the effects of the laser treatment. There is a small chance that the new treatment could increase the risk of vision loss. Any important information gained from this study will be shared with all CAPT patients, doctors, and the public as soon as it becomes available. To be eligible for the study, patients must meet all of the following criteria:
-- Age 50 or older.
-- Large drusen, or yellow deposits, in the retinas of both eyes. These deposits can be viewed only by an eye care professional through a dilated eye exam.
-- Vision of 20/40 or better in each eye. -- No other eye disease affecting vision.
-- Available for five years of follow-up.
-- No previous laser treatment to the retina.

For more information, call patient coordinator Ann Ervin, Emory Eye Center, 404-778-2423, or go to www.emory.edu/EYE_CENTER or www.nih.nei.gov.

Media Contact: Joy H. Bell
jbell@emory.edu
404-778-3711

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