Prior to the approval of JETREA®, surgery was the only option for symptomatic vitreomacular adhesion (VMA). As the eye ages, the vitreous liquefies and begins to detach from the retina. For most aging people, this process is uneventful and the result is a clean separation of the vitreous. However, in about 500,000 cases annually, the separation becomes uneven, resulting in traction or pulling on the retina at the remaining areas of attachment. Around the periphery of the retina, this may result in a retinal tear. But when the macula is involved, the vitreous pulling at the adhesion points is referred to as vitreomacular adhesion (VMA).
Often, VMA will be asymptomatic, and the person is not aware of the condition. But in some cases, VMA becomes symptomatic, and when this happens, it can be sudden and quite startling. The symptoms include:
- Bright flashes
- Decreased visual acuity
- Optical distortion of straight lines
- Dark or blank spots centrally
- In the worst cases, a full-thickness tear in the fovea—a macular hole—can occur
Vitrectomy is effective at relieving the adhesion, but also a technically challenging and delicate procedure that inevitably entails some risk of damage to the retina, in addition to the other risks of intraocular surgery (infection, accelerated cataract development, etc.). JETREA® (ocriplasmin) is a new drug that, when injected into the vitreous, dissolves the proteins that cause the vitreous to adhere to the retina. In many patients, this is enough to release the vitreous cortex from the retina and relieve the symptoms, making surgery unnecessary. JETREA® starts working within seconds, and if the traction is going to release, it generally does so within a week or two.
One of our gifted retina surgeons at Eye Health Partners & VisionAmerica will determine the best treatment method for each patient’s unique situation. To schedule a consultation, visit our Contact Us page to schedule a consultation with one of our retina specialists in TN at our Columbia, Murfreesboro, or Nashville locations, or with one of our AL retina specialists at our Albertville, Birmingham, Cullman, Eastern Shore, Gadsden, Mobile, or Oxford-Anniston locations.