YOUR HEALTH: Treating an eye stroke

LOS ANGELES – Steve Carson was 45 when the peripheral vision in his left eye started to go.

"It wasn't completely gone, but it was muddy.  I couldn't really make anything out."

His eye was dilated, which hid his condition.   Then he was misdiagnosed, and treated with steroids.

"After that treatment, my eyesight got worse and it crossed over the center of my eye and continued all the way up to the top."

By the time he was diagnosed with Non-arteritic Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy, or NAION, the vision in his eye was gone.

Stroke of the eye, as some call it, is a frightening condition that causes people to lose half their vision in a matter of hours or days.

Simply put, blood flow is cut off to the optic nerve, causing swelling and vision loss.

It strikes up to 6000 people a year in the U.S., according to the National Institutes of Health, and doctors have never been able to successfully treat it.

But now, University of California-Los Angeles' Dr. Peter Quiros is part of a study on QPI-1007, a drug that's injected into the eye.   It blocks a messenger that tells troubled cells to die.

"So it blocks that signal, that death signal, and so the hope is that we can block the signal long enough, the cells will eventually recover from being swollen and instead of dying they'll go back to recovery and functioning," said Dr. Quiros.

Phase one trial patients had no bad reactions and slightly better results than the control group did.

"In the best of all possible worlds, we'd like to reverse some of the vision loss," said Dr. Quiros.

"We may not be able to reverse all of it but it would be nice if we could even get some improvement, because up to now, we have no improvement."

Steve is watching closely, as there's a 15% chance of this happening to his other eye.

Doctors don't know exactly what causes stroke of the eye, but say obstructive sleep apnea, hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol may be factors.

To qualify for the QPI-1007 trial, you must be 50 to 80 years old, have had no treatment for the episode, and have onset of symptoms in the last 14 days.

There are 89 study locations all over the world.

QPI-1007 TRIAL:  As part of the study, QPI1007 is injected into the eye and blocks a messenger that tells troubled cells to die.  By blocking the signal researchers hope that if it is blocked long enough, the cells will eventually recover instead of dying off.  Phase one trial patients had slightly better and no bad reactions than the control group did.  The trial is now in phase two/three, clinical trials are described in phases one through five; however as in this case, two and three can be combined. For more information visit clinicaltrials.gov.   (Source: https://www.nordicclinicaltrials.com/naion-clinical-trial-faqs)

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.