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Alum's Vision Saves Sight

Alum's Vision Saves SightNew laser treatment developed by Dr. Mark Latina may be the best hope for glaucoma patients. No. Andover, Mass.

Boston [07.12.01] Often described as the "silent disease," glaucoma has quietly destroyed the sight of 50 million people worldwide. The leading cause of preventable blindness in Americans over 50, the disease responds to few treatments. But a new laser procedure developed by an internationally renowned Tufts graduate may provide the best hope yet for managing the disease and saving patients' vision.

Caused by a fluid build-up around the eye's optical nerve, glaucoma can leave patients with partial or complete loss of vision, often without any warning signs. The key to treating the disease is relieving the pressure that builds in the eye.

Doctors have tried everything from pills to eye drops, including laser treatments more recently, but the results were minimal and some of the side effects were severe.

But Tufts' Dr. Mark Latina may have found a much safer and more effective approach.

"Latina's breakthrough invention, 10 years in the making, is a machine that uses a 'cold' laser rather than a 'hot' one to treat people with open angle glaucoma," reported the Lawrence Eagle Tribune.

Instead of burning tissue in the eye, Latina's invention can cut tissue without bleeding, making the procedure much safer.

"The new cold laser will eliminate bleeding and scarring associated with the hot laser, and it will allow patients to get as many extra treatments as needed, rather than the limit of two additional treatments with hot lasers," the Tribune reported.

The 1976 alum, who first become interested in lasers while studying chemistry at Tufts, told the newspaper that the cold laser treatment may eventually eliminate the need for anti-glaucoma medications.

"I think it's going to become the first-line therapy," said Latina, who is also an associate clinical professor at Tufts' Medical School.

Already, his invention is being used around the world.

Over 75 of his lasers are in use worldwide, reported the Tribune. Doctors in Europe and Japan were actually using the treatment before doctors in the United States.

It's not surprising that Latina is the visionary behind the new laser treatment.

"[The Tufts graduate] is known internationally for his research and inventions of laser applications for the eye. For the past 10 years, he has pioneered several new laser procedures for the treatment of glaucoma and holds numerous patents," reported the Tribune.

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