Wold Family Macular Degeneration Center

Living with macular degeneration and low vision

Online talks for you and your family

Speakers: Christina Flaxel, M.D., retina specialist; Steven Bailey, M.D., retina specialist

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Find out about the latest developments in research and treatment, including clinical trials, new imaging technologies and nutrition.

Speaker: Kathryn Marxen-Simonson, MSOT, OTR/L, CLVT, Certified low vision therapist

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With the current COVID-19 pandemic, we’re spending more time in our homes than ever before. Learn about practical solutions and strategies for managing various activities, from cooking and kitchen tasks to household chores and leisure pursuits.

Speaker: Alan Labrum, O.D., Vision rehabilitation specialist

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One of the biggest frustrations for people with low vision is difficulty in reading. Explore the latest adaptive technology – including electronic magnifiers and accessibility features – to make reading easier and more enjoyable. 

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. 

Our expertise

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

This study is evaluating 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

This study is exploring the association of gastrointestinal tract gut bacteria with advanced AMD. Researchers will also study 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

GT Scope for advanced dry AMD

In this study, eligible patients with advanced dry AMD (geographic atrophy) will provide a saliva sample for genetic testing. Those with a positive result for a rare mutation of the gene CFI (about three in 100) will be followed for two years.  At the completion of the two-year observation period, patients may qualify to enroll in a potential gene therapy study.

Contact:  Jennifer Maykoski, 503-494-3064

Gallego for advanced dry AMD

This phase 2 study will evaluate the safety, dosing and effectiveness of  a study drug (FHTR2163) that blocks the formation of a protein that may increase the risk of AMD. To qualify, patients must have advanced dry AMD (geographic atrophy) and visit the clinic every four weeks or every eight weeks for two years.  Each visit will include an eye exam, eye imaging, vision testing and injection of the study drug or sham medication.

Contact:  Jennifer Maykoski, 503-494-3064

GATHER 2 for advanced dry AMD

This Phase 3 study will evaluate the investigational drug, Zimura, to learn if it can slow or stop the progression of geographic atrophy (GA), a form of advanced dry AMD. Patients that qualify and are enrolled in the study will return to the clinic monthly for two years and will have vision tests, imaging, eye examinations, and lab tests.  Study patients will be randomly assigned to receive either injections of Zimura or sham injections in their study eye. The sham injection simulates an injection and is used to help prevent bias in the study results. Visits will last three to five hours each month.

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.

Dietary supplements and nutrition

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.

A heart-healthy diet emphasizing fruits, vegetables, whole grains and seafood may also protect against AMD.  

Getting treatment

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.  As an academic medical center, our doctors also conduct cutting-edge research to learn what causes AMD and improve current treatments. 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. 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.  

Our faculty

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

If you or a family member are 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.

Read more about the Casey vision loss support group