Saving vision

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is very common among older adults. In fact, it’s the leading cause of vision loss for men and women over 60 years. Yet, mainstream treatments are often ineffective. And expensive.

Now, some doctors have begun to use a cutting-edge cancer drug to treat AMD. Yes, it’s less expensive. But it comes with serious risks.

I’ll tell you more about this dangerous treatment in a moment. But first, let’s consider why macular degeneration is such a big problem.

Your retina is all-important for vision. It receives photons of colored light and codes them into electrical impulses. Then, it sends the impulses to the central nervous system.

The center of your retina is called the macula. The macula contains highly specialized cells needed for sharp vision. Unfortunately, as we age, changes can occur to the macula. And these changes can lead to serious loss of vision.

The “dry” form of macular degeneration results from drusen deposits. (This word comes from the German word for “dregs,” as in dregs of wine). These deposits block the retina and cause blind spots.

The “wet” form results from the abnormal proliferation of blood vessels in your eye. These vessels leak blood and fluids that block the retina. Eventual scarring leads to serious loss of vision.

The dry form of AMD is more common. Although it may progress to the wet form, most cases do not. About 10 percent of men and women with macular degeneration develop the wet form. But this percentage suffers the most severe visual loss.

Curiously, the abnormal proliferation of blood vessels in the wet form of AMD is very similar to “angiogenesis” seen in cancer growth.

Angiogenesis explains how cancer cells grow into tumors.

Cancer actually begins as a few abnormal cells. So how do these abnormal cells grow into a tumor? They send out a message that redirects blood vessels to the cancer cells. Then, the rogue blood vessels carry nutrients to the hungry cells. Eventually, the cancer cells multiply and grow, forming a tumor.

As I presented in my special report “The One Word Battle Plan to Crushing Cancer,” we now know that stopping angiogenesis helps slow cancer growth.

After decades of basic research proving the role of angiogenesis in cancer, Big PHARMA has finally embarked on an all-out, multi-billion dollar effort to develop “anti-angiogenic” drugs.

These drugs block cancer growth by blocking the proliferation of new blood vessels. And unlike chemotherapy, this new treatment does not poison all the cells in your body.

Avastin is a new anti-angiogenic drug approved for the treatment of cancer by the FDA.

And some ophthalmologists recently began using Avastin “off-label” for the wet form of macular degeneration, in the hopes that it might stop the abnormal blood vessel proliferation in the eyes. (Once the FDA approves a drug, treating physicians can use it for any purpose they deem viable.)

This off-label use of Avastin appeals to AMD patients for one reason: its cost. An single injection of Avastin costs only $50. By comparison, Lucentis–an FDA-approved drug specifically for AMD–costs $2,000 per injection.

But, here’s the catch. The manufacturer of Avastin, Genentech, does not make ophthalmic preparations of the drug. Compounding pharmacies must do it.

This process is cumbersome and potentially dangerous. The compounding pharmacies must divide a regular vial of Avastin many times to make doses small enough for treatment in the eye. Ophthalmologists inject it into the diseased eye using very fine syringes.

As I pointed out recently, preparing drugs for injections is a risky business. The extra handling and exposure greatly increases the risk of contamination.

Indeed, earlier this year, a compounding pharmacy in Georgia recalled 40 lots of vials. Turns out, several AMD patients developed bacterial endophthalmitis after receiving Avastin injections.

And that wasn’t the first time Avastin caused problems.

In 2011, 16 people in Florida and Tennessee lost their eyesight following Avastin injections. In those cases, patients brought malpractice lawsuits against doctors, clinics and hospitals.

A study by the American Journal of Ophthalmology investigated the problems with Avastin. The researchers found that the drug itself wasn’t the problem. But rather, the compounding procedures used to prepare the tiny ophthalmic syringes.

Essentially, this is the same kind of thing we saw back in 2012 with steroid injections for neck and back pain. As you’ll recall, contaminated steroids caused dozens of deaths and hundreds of illnesses.

Fortunately, you can skip the dangerous Avastin injections. And the pricey AMD drugs too. You don’t need drugs at all to treat AMD. As I will report in an upcoming issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter, many natural products already have “anti-angiogenic” activity.

Furthermore, new research shows that a host of natural vitamins and minerals can prevent macular degeneration in the first place. Again, I’ll give you all the details in an upcoming issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter. Now is the perfect time to become a subscriber, or renew your subscription, so you don’t miss this important report.