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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — It is estimated that about 12-thousand people every year suffer a stroke in the eye, which can cause serious vision damage.

There are currently no effective treatments available, but now researchers are testing a new drug that is giving patients new hope including Jeff Markowitz.

Markowitz, who had a stroke in the eye, is hoping to regain the vision he’s lost.

“I noticed a shadow on my right eye,” he explained.

A stroke in the eye occurs when blood vessels supplying nutrients and oxygen to the optic nerve are blocked. It can cause sudden vision loss and sometimes blindness.

“By the time I saw the doc, it was kind of like a cloud,” said Markowitz.

With no effective treatments available, Markowitz enrolled in a clinical trial at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai testing a new experimental drug.

“We believe that this molecule has the ability to stop the cascade of events which leads to cell death,” explained Dr. Rudrani Banik, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai. “Actually preserve vision and possibly restore some of the vision that’s been lost.”

The drug called QPI-1007 is injected into the eye three times over six months.  Dr. Rudrani Banik says it is critical to start treatment within two weeks of symptoms.

“We think there is a window of time in which we should get the drug to the patient,” said Dr. Banik.

Markowitz doesn’t know yet if he’s getting the actual drug or a placebo since the study is ongoing but so far, he says he is seeing better.

“Over the next year it will take a while to see where I end up and what my vision will be for the rest of my life.”

He also discovered he has sleep apnea, which is one of the risk factors for eye stroke.

Other risk factors for eye stroke are diabetes, high blood pressure and smoking. Doctors recommend annual eye exams and to see an eye doctor immediately if you have any vision loss.


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