CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — For those who suffer from age-related macular degeneration, two new treatment options are available. These medications, Syfovre and Izervay, have just been approved and are now starting to be covered by Medicare.
This is life-altering to those who have been diagnosed with this horrible eye disease. There is no cure for macular degeneration, commonly referred to as AMD, but these new medications work to slow its progression.
“Up until now, we have had no good treatment options for the dry type of AMD. These new medicines slow the growth of advanced types of dry AMD by 20-25%,” said Dr. Reed Gibb, an optometrist at Red Cliffs Eye Center, Southern Utah’s newest optometry clinic. “This may not sound like a big percentage, but for many, any help in slowing this down can be the difference between independence or not.”
“If you have been told you have AMD, and all you are doing is taking vitamins for this, you really need to be examined again,” Gibb continued. “It’s a daunting thought, but really everyone with AMD should be rechecked to see if they qualify. We have all the diagnostic and imaging equipment here at Red Cliffs Eye Center to determine if this is a good option for you. It’s not a perfect medicine, but any help to extend useful vision is welcomed.”
Syfovre and Izervay work similarly by targeting excessive activation of the complement system, which is the immune system’s early response to harmful pathogens and is implicated in the development of geographic atrophy. Geographic atrophy, an advanced form of macular degeneration, can have a devastating impact on a person’s vision. More than 5 million people worldwide have this disease, including nearly 1 million people in the U.S.
“Approximately 20% of all AMD cases develop into the geographic stage of deterioration. Once this happens, on average, a patient can expect to lose significant central vision over the course of 2 to 2 1/2 years,” Gibb said. “Even if we can slow this down by 20% or 25%, as the studies have shown, it could be a great blessing to many patients.”
Gibb is also on staff at Retina Associates of Southern Utah, where complicated retina conditions are treated regularly. Speaking of the ophthalmologists there, he said, “Dr. Carlson and Dr. Lord are amazing. They are extremely proficient at delivering these types of treatments. They go to great lengths to make sure the patients are comfortable. When it comes down to getting treatment, being in the hands of a retina specialist that does this kind of treatment every day is important.”
Red Cliffs Eye Center facilitates comprehensive eye care for patients of all ages. Along with exams, services include the diagnosis and management of dry eye disease, diabetic eye disease, vascular eye disease, cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and other conditions. The clinic also has an optical center where they can fit patients for glasses and contacts.
As a smaller clinic, Red Cliffs Eye Center offers a peaceful, welcoming environment where patient comfort is top priority. They also strive to keep patients waiting as little as possible.
“If you normally have to wait in an eye care provider office for hours just to have three minutes to talk to the doctor, something is wrong with that system,” Gibb said. “I invite you to give us a try. We will take the time to listen to your concerns and work through the issues. Vision is so important, and it’s nice to have the time you need with the doctor.”
Having practiced in St. George since 2004, Gibb is a familiar face among patients and a well-respected provider in the local eye care community. His decades of clinical experience have primarily focused on geriatric eye care, such as cataracts and glaucoma, as well as retinal diseases including macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.
St. George has been Gibb’s home for nearly 20 years, and he’s passionate about helping Southern Utahns live better through excellent vision care. The community has been a great place for him and his wife to raise their six kids, he said, and he’s grateful for the thousands of patients he’s had the opportunity to meet along the way.
Gibb is a member of the American Optometric Association and the Utah Optometric Association. Along with managing his own clinic, he also serves patients on a part-time basis at Retina Associates of Southern Utah, the area’s only retina specialty practice.
Because of this, Red Cliffs Eye Center will always be at the forefront of treatment options for conditions such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. As soon as new technologies come to the market, they will be offered to patients.
Gibb has spent his entire career working alongside ophthalmologists and specialists in complex eye care, including cataracts, LASIK surgery and retina specialists. This experience has given him valuable insight into eye disease that many other optometrists don’t have, which is reflected by the cutting-edge imaging and diagnostic technology used at Red Cliffs Eye Center.
“I’m an optometrist with a medical eye care background, so my patients receive all the eye care they need up to the point of surgery,” he said. “Patients can expect a very high level of care here.”
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