People in Cape Breton suffering from a chronic retina disease will now get the treatment they need closer to home. Premier Darrell Dexter announced today, Oct. 23, it will expand Lucentis and Avastin treatments for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), to the Cape Breton District Health Authority, for people on Pharmacare. “This is a condition that impacts people’s sight, making traveling a long distance to get treatment a challenge,” said Premier Dexter. “Families told us they wanted to get treatment closer to their homes and their loved ones. We committed to bringing this treatment to Cape Breton, and today we have.” Wet-AMD affects people 50 or older and can lead to blood and fluid to leak into the eye, causing blindness. “By funding Lucentis in Cape Breton, our provincial government is helping to prevent wet AMD-related vision loss and reduce the practical, emotional and economic costs of vision loss for individuals,” said Louise Gillis, national president for the Canadian Council of the Blind. “For this, we wish to thank our government for extending this service to patients living in Cape Breton.” Ophthalmologists in the district have been trained to provide the injections, and diagnostic equipment has been updated to new standards. Treatment will be at the Glace Bay Hospital eye clinic, beginning in early November. “With an aging population in Cape Breton, this condition is increasingly common,” said Dr. Kristine Mayer, division chief for the district’s ophthalmology department. “Travel to Halifax has been difficult for patients and their families, especially when multiple treatments and frequent travel were involved.” “Cape Bretoners will continue to have access to quality eye care and modern treatment options in their local community.” Since January 2011, these therapies have been funded for Nova Scotians who meet the clinical criteria, and are members of the Seniors, Family or Community Services Pharmacare programs. Patients with private insurance will continue use coverage through that resource. “I am delighted to have the Lucentis treatment available in Cape Breton,” said Patsy MacMullin, who lives with macular degeneration. “It would have been impossible to cover the cost of the injection plus the cost of travel to and from Halifax by shuttle. “I appreciate and thank the government for its decision to assist those who have been afflicted with this degenerative disease.”
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