Leading the way to fight age-related macular degeneration
The Wold Family Macular Degeneration Center at OHSU Casey Eye Institute is at the forefront of research, patient care and education for age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of vision loss among older Americans. Established more than two decades ago by an endowment from George and Carolyn Goodall, the center continues to grow and thrive thanks to generous philanthropic and community support. Its founding director, Michael Klein, M.D., served until 2016, followed by the center's current director, Christina Flaxel, M.D.
As a regional resource for patients and referring providers, we offer:
- A team of caring retina specialists with the expertise to deliver the most advanced patient care.
- Groundbreaking research programs in genetics, drug therapy, nutrition, eye imaging and more. Many of these studies involve scientists in different disciplines working together, applying their laboratory discoveries to the development of new treatments.
- Vibrant public education and community outreach programs.
- Support and help with managing vision loss through our close affiliation with OHSU Casey Eye Institute’s Vision Rehabilitation Center and a dedicated social worker.
Research and innovation
For more than two decades, scientists at the Wold Family Macular Degeneration Center have contributed to key findings to improve the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of age-related macular degeneration. We continue to be a hub for leading-edge research, often working with basic scientists at Casey and other investigative groups around the world. These collaborations speed the development of new and better ways to manage AMD.
Metformin for dry macular degeneration
Purpose: To determine whether oral Metformin HCL (a diabetes medication) is an effective treatment for slowing the progression of geographic atrophy (late form of dry AMD) in patients with dry AMD. Qualified study patients will be enrolled in a randomized study that requires four study visits at OHSU Casey Eye Institute. Participation in the study lasts 24 months and patients receiving Metformin will be on the drug for 18 months. Eligible participants must be age 55 or older and have advanced dry AMD in one or both eyes. Candidates cannot have diabetes or currently be taking Metformin. Other eligibility criteria may also apply.
Contact: Jennifer Maykoski, 503-494-3064
Association between advanced AMD and alterations in the gut microbiome
Purpose: To learn whether associations exist between gastrointestinal tract gut bacteria and advanced AMD. Researchers will also explore the connection between an individual's genes and the activity of the gut bacteria. Study participants include people with advanced macular degeneration as well as those without the disease who meet other criteria.
Contact: Mitchell Schain, 503-494-3115
Participating in a clinical trial
For more information about clinical trials being conducted at OHSU Casey Eye Institute for macular degeneration, please call 503-494-3537 or email us.
Understanding age-related macular degeneration
What is age-related macular degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration – or AMD – is a chief cause of vision loss in older Americans. The disease affects the macula, the tiny area in the center of your eye’s retina that allows you to see fine details. AMD can damage your central vision over time and make it difficult or impossible to read, see faces, drive a car and carry out other everyday activities. You can have AMD in one or both eyes.
Types of AMD
In early AMD, fat-containing deposits called drusen form in the macula. Although common as we age, people with larger and more numerous drusen may be at risk for advanced AMD.
Dry AMD: Most people diagnosed with AMD have the dry form of the disease. When dry AMD progresses, the light-sensitive cells in your macula begin to break down and cause gradual vision loss. Your eye doctor can tell you what stage you are in by examining your retinas through dilated pupils.
Wet AMD: The wet form is less common but can be more severe than the dry type. Considered an advanced stage of AMD, it happens when abnormal blood vessels grow under the macula and leak blood and fluid. Damage to the macula can occur quickly and cause vision loss.
Risk factors and prevention
Although AMD’s causes are not yet clearly understood, there are some factors that can increase your risk of getting the disease. While some risk factors can't be controlled, such as age and your genes, there are some measures you can take to lessen your chances of developing AMD. These include not smoking and eating a heart-healthy diet with plenty of vegetables, legumes, fruit, whole grains, and seafood.
If you are at high risk of developing advanced AMD, talk to your eye doctor about taking AREDS 2 supplements. You cannot obtain these helpful vitamins and minerals by just the foods you eat. The supplements may slow your progression to advanced AMD and help you keep your vision longer if you have intermediate AMD or advanced AMD in one eye.
AREDS2 supplements are not helpful for early AMD or for people with healthy eyes. However, these individuals should have their eyes checked every year to make sure their AMD isn’t getting worse. Your doctor can tell you what stage you are in.
The physicians at the Wold Family Macular Degeneration Center are nationally recognized for their expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of AMD, using the latest approaches. Their care is based on decades of rigorous research and backed by the most advanced technology. As an academic medical center, our doctors also conduct cutting-edge research to learn what causes AMD and improve current treatments. Because of our participation in many major clinical research studies, our patients are often first in line for study treatments not available elsewhere.
At this time, treatments are limited to the wet form of AMD. Medications injected into the eye can slow the disease and help avoid more vision loss. The drug slows or stops the growth of abnormal blood vessels, which can damage vision.
Patients being treated for wet AMD usually receive injections of Lucentis, Avastin or Eylea. All three have been found to be safe and effective in clinical trials conducted at the Wold Family Macular Degeneration Center and other study sites. There are many factors to consider when deciding which type of medication and dosing schedule to use for each patient. You and your doctor will decide the best options for you.
Other treatments, such as photodynamic therapy or laser therapy, are far less common but sometimes used for certain patients.
- Kavita Bhavsar, M.D.
- Assistant professor
- J. Peter Campbell, M.D., M.P.H.
- Assistant Professor
- Andreas K. Lauer, M.D.
- Chair, Department of Ophthalmology, Casey Eye Institute
- Robert Watzke, M.D.
- Clinical teaching long term follow up care for patients with central serous chorioretinopathy
Resources and support
Vision Loss Support Group
Are you experiencing changes to your vision? Casey's support group is a great place to:
- Connect with others experiencing the same challenges
- Share your personal story and strategies for dealing with vision loss
- Learn about helpful tools, resources and get tips to live life to the fullest
The support group meets every other Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. at Casey's Marquam Hill location. Family members are welcome! Interested in participating or have questions? Please ask your Casey provider or call Casey social worker Tara Albury, L.C.S.W. at 503-494-1618.