Sights and Sounds
It's been a busy summer at Mass. Eye and Ear! Our clinicians have been caring for patients near and far, and our researchers have been working toward finding better treatments and cures for them. We've also been hard at work on our new location, Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Longwood. We look forward to bringing our quality specialty care to the Longwood area later this fall. Read on for more news from our patients, our research labs and more.
Life is good for 63-year-old retiree Judy Poindexter. She travels around the country in her motor home, rides her Harley-Davidson motorcycle and manages her rental properties. Fortunately one thing Judy is able to talk about in the past tense is her diagnosis of eye cancer. And that’s thanks to a treatment developed at Mass. Eye and Ear.
Nearly two decades ago, Judy went to her ophthalmologist in South Carolina for a routine eye exam. “He noticed a ‘freckle’ in my left eye and he decided to send me to a retina specialist for follow up,” says Judy. The retina specialist observed the freckle in Judy’s eye for six months. He then gave her a frightening diagnosis: ocular melanoma. He referred her to Mass. Eye and Ear for care.
Ocular melanoma is a rare type of cancer that develops in the uvea, one of the parts of the back of the eye. In its early stages, an ocular melanoma may not cause any symptoms at all. Many melanomas can be detected during a routine ophthalmic examination. Like any cancer, ocular melanoma is life-threatening. This kind of cancer can metastasize (or spread) to the liver.
Judy arrived at Mass. Eye and Ear during the summer of 1992. That’s when she entered the care of retina specialist Dr. Evangelos Gragoudas. A leader in his field in both clinical care and research, Dr. Gragoudas developed the therapy that he would use to treat Judy’s eye cancer: proton beam radiation. Dr. Gragoudas spent a large part of his career researching and developing proton beam therapy as a treatment for eye cancers. “We treated our first patient with proton beam radiation in 1975. Though it was used for the treatment of brain vascular tumors at the time, it had not been used to treat eye cancers,” explains Dr. Gragoudas. He has treated more than 3,000 patients with proton beam radiation.
“The benefit of proton beam therapy is that you can deliver the treatment with sub-millimeter precision; you’re delivering radiation more precisely to the tumor so that it doesn’t damage surrounding tissues,” explains Dr. Gragoudas. “The rates of recurrence are lower and visual acuity is better after proton beam treatment than treatment with plaque radiation,” he says.
Judy has been cancer-free for 19 years. She now travels from South Carolina to Boston every year for follow up at Mass. Eye and Ear. On her follow up visits, she often meets other patients who have been diagnosed with ocular melanoma. “I enjoy meeting newly diagnosed patients and I believe I give them hope,” says Judy. “There is a long future for them with the good care they will get at Mass. Eye and Ear.”
We've been working hard all summer on construction at our new location, Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Longwood. We're looking forward to offering more access to our specialty care to patients who need it. Visit our website to stay up to date on the progress at Mass. Eye and Ear, Longwood, scheduled to open this fall. In addition, we’re now able to provide better care to those diagnosed with diabetes-related eye disease, thanks to our new collaboration with Joslin Diabetes Center in the Longwood Medical Area. Read more about our partnership with Joslin Diabetes Center.
Today and every day, we're moving closer to better treatments and cures. Now, a groundbreaking study conducted at Mass. Eye and Ear has identified a potential target for developing treatment for vision loss in patients with retinitis pigmentosa, a potentially blinding disease which affects more than 1 million people around the world. It's our latest step toward wiping out vision loss from blinding diseases. Read more about this exciting discovery.
Picture this: You on the open road in your very own BMW Mini-Cooper! For just $100 (or 6 chances for $500), you will have the chance to drive this great car while helping raise funds for the Mass. Eye and Ear "Curing Kids Fund" to seed new research and support innovative advancements in care for kids at Mass. Eye and Ear. Purchase your ticket now to benefit the Curing Kids Fund and tell your friends, too!
Attend our 12th Annual Free Public Forum on Hearing and Hearing Loss, on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. where you’ll learn more about the ear, treatments for hearing loss and what’s new in research. Seating is limited. Call 617-573-4466 to reserve a space or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The event is free and all are welcome.
Download the full program brochure here.