It's the leading cause of legal blindness in older Americans. Every year, 250-thousand people in the U.S. are treated for age-related macular degeneration.
Now, there's more and more evidence that a cancer drug doctors have been relying on to help cancer patients works just as well as a much more expensive option. Lou Baxter has the story.
Harriet Corstvet has a passion for reading about politics.
Harriet Corstvet, macular degeneration patient, said:
"People don't realize that their opinion is being swayed!"
But age-related macular degeneration has made it difficult to enjoy.
"And it's just absolutely maddening."
Opthalmologist Suresh Chandra is using an injectable colon cancer drug on Harriet,
Chandra: "...Avastin solution"
to shrink vision-impairing blood vessels in her eye.
It's not FDA approved for that, but there is growing evidence Avastin does it just as well as Lucentis, which is approved for AMD.
Recently released results of a two year clinical trial show:
Harriet: "Avastin had the same visual results at the end as Lucentis."
But Avastin is 50 dollars a dose, Lucentis is two-thousand dollars a dose.
A federal report shows in '08 and '09, Medicare paid physicians one-point-one billion dollars for 700-thousand Lucentis treatments and just 40 million for many more Avastin treatments.
The doctor says Avastin saves patients with co-pays a lot of money and could save peoples vision in countries where Lucentis is just too expensive.
Harriet says: "Without it I would have for certain, would have been completely blind."
Lou Baxter, Jet 24, Action News.