Arlington Memorial Hospital Leads Nation in Use of Vision-Restoring Therapy
08/01/2006

ARLINGTON, Texas – For patients suffering from uveitis – a disease that causes vision-impairing inflammation of the eye – their whole lives are sometimes held hostage while undergoing traditional medical treatments. In Arlington, Tex., patients are getting their lives back through an innovative optical procedure.

Arlington Memorial Hospital leads the nation in the use of a revolutionary new technology called Retisert™ that delivers inflammation-reducing medication directly into the eye for up to 30 months. The drug delivery technology was developed by Bausch & Lomb to treat chronic noninfectious uveitis, a potentially blinding condition of the posterior segment of the eye. David Callanan, M.D., retinal surgeon on the medical staff of Arlington Memorial Hospital, has performed more Retisert procedures than anyone in the country. All of them have taken place at Arlington Memorial Hospital.

In the United States, an estimated 175,000 people suffer from uveitis, which tends to strike between the ages of 10 and 50. Symptoms include redness and irritation of the eye, blurred vision, eye pain, light sensitivity and floating spots.

Patients with uveitis experience damaging inflammation in the posterior (or back) segment of the eye, which leads to vision loss and possibly glaucoma. According to Dr. Callanan, treatments are designed to first prevent further loss of vision and second, to try to reverse the damage caused by the inflammation. The inflammation caused by uveitis leads to cell death in the eye. But the Retisert treatment “eliminates the inflammation, prevents further damage and then reverses the effects” of the disease, says Dr. Callanan.

About the size of a grain of rice, Retisert consists of a tiny reservoir designed to deliver consistent levels of fluocinolone acetonide, an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid, directly to the back of the eye for almost three years. The steroid reduces the inflammation, offering relief and improved vision.

"We're proud to play a role in this important work," says Oscar L. Amparan, AMH president. "Through innovative technology and procedures we can live our mission of improving the health of the people in the communities we serve."

Before Retisert, patients suffering from uveitis had to undergo steroid treatments that had a huge impact on their lives. Some of the side effects patients experience when undergoing traditional steroid treatment include stomach upset, insomnia, diabetes, osteoporosis, headache, depression and increased susceptibility to illness. The surgical procedure greatly reduces the side effects of the steroid treatments.

“Even with all the drugs, they would have flare-ups of uveitis,” says Dr. Callanan. With Retisert, “they can go back to having a normal life – no flare-ups.”

The use of Retisert “provides a more effective type of treatment,” Callanan continued. “It's a whole paradigm shift of caring for and treating the disease.”

Danielle Sheets, one of Dr. Callanan's patients to receive , once felt that her career decisions would be severely limited by declining vision due to uveitis. Since the procedure, she's delighted with the dramatic improvement of her vision to 20/25. "Now I drive myself to work each day," says Sheets, unrestricted by her vision as she pursues a career in marketing.

About Arlington Memorial Hospital
Arlington Memorial Hospital is an acute-care, full-service medical center serving Arlington and the surrounding communities. Services include: comprehensive cardiac care, women's and children's services, an advanced imaging center, extensive rehabilitation services, emergency services, health maintenance and disease prevention classes, support groups and community service programs.

About Texas Health Resources
Texas Health Resources is one of the largest faith-based, nonprofit health care delivery systems in the United States. The 13-hospital system is the largest in North Texas in terms of patients served and includes Arlington Memorial Hospital, Harris Methodist Hospitals and Presbyterian Healthcare System. For more information about Arlington Memorial Hospital and Texas Health Resources, visit http://www.texashealth.org/.