Canada's Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies

Canada's Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies

November 14, 2013 08:45 ET

Restored Hope - How one man living with diabetes got his eyesight and his life back

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Nov. 14, 2013) -

Editors' note: A photo and a video are associated with this press release.

Three years ago, Tony Hiltz lost his driver's license and his job. He wasn't able to drive or continue working as a professional chef because he had just been declared legally blind. What started as a routine doctor's visit for a sinus infection changed dramatically in a few shorts months and left Tony wondering if he would ever be able to get his life back.

When Tony first visited his doctor in 2010, he figured he had a sinus infection, would get a prescription and be on his way. But the resulting diagnosis was much more frightening. Tony had uncontrolled diabetes, and most likely had it for years.

Tony was still dealing with the diabetes diagnosis when the disease began to affect his vision. Tony is one of the few diabetics who are affected by diabetic macular edema (DME). DME causes abnormal changes in the blood vessels of the retina, which is the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye. In patients with DME, leakage from these abnormal blood vessels occurs in the central portion of the retina. Because this part of the eye is responsible for sharp central vision, DME can lead to significant visual impairment.

The damage was so severe for Tony that within the year he was declared legally blind. His license was revoked and he couldn't see his hands well enough to cook as a professional chef anymore.

"I think too often we take our vision for granted, and don't really appreciate it until it's gone," Mr. Hiltz says. "But it is a traumatic, life-altering experience when you can no longer see."

Despite numerous laser treatments to repair the broken blood vessels in his eyes, Tony's vision continued to worsen. It wasn't until Tony was referred to a specialist that he was given new hope - a new, innovative medicine that might partially restore his sight.

The results were astounding. Within four months, Tony was working again and able to get his driver's license back.

"It's quite miraculous," said Tony. "Before, I would have had to ask people who they were. Now I can see them."

The future is now bright and clear for Tony. "As long as I keep up with my treatments, I should keep my eyesight. I'm back at work and contributing, and it's thanks to this new medicine."

About Rx&D

Rx&D is the association of leading research-based pharmaceutical companies dedicated to improving the health of Canadians through the discovery and development of new medicines and vaccines. Our community represents the men and women working for more than 50 member companies which invest more than $1 billion in research and development each year to fuel Canada's knowledge-based economy, contributing over $3 billion to the Canadian economy. Guided by our Code of Ethical Practices, our membership is committed to working in partnership with governments, healthcare professionals and stakeholders in a highly ethical manner.

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