Published: Jan 22, 2011 5:12 AM EST
Updated: Jan 22, 2011 2:09 AM EST

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Hope for patients suffering from Macular Degeneration: new clinical study helped one Fort Myers woman regain her failing vision.

Betty Fuhrman, almost 91, spends her days reading, doing crosswords, and playing bingo."

All simple pleasures Macular Degeneration nearly stole from her. "I wasn't seeing as well, but as I have said before, I just thought it was my age," Fuhrman said.

So she went to see Dr. Alexander Eaton and after three years in the Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor , or VEGF Trap-eye clinical trial, her eyes are close to normal.

"When it's injected into the eye, it's able to trap, which is why it's called the VEGF eye Trap, more of the Vascular Endothelial Growth in the eye than antibodies are able to," Eaton said.

Currently, patients must go back every month or two for retreatment. But with this new treatment, they can go 6 months to a year.

While the disease often appears in older patients, there are steps you can take early on to save your eyesight.

"You want to avoid smoking, which can clearly cause problems for your eyes as well as your heart, exercise and weight control, eating a healthy diet," Eaton said.

One easy and very important way to protect your eyes from a young age is to wear sunglasses every time you go out into the sun, and if possible, a hat that has a brim on it. And if Macular Degeneration runs in your family, you'll want to get tested.

If the FDA gives final approval, the medication should be available sometime after summer. Fuhrman can't wait. "I can't think of anything I'm not able to do," she said.

That includes passing her driver's test.

January 22, the Retina Health Center and the Foundation Fighting Blindness will host the 8th annual Southwest Florida Macular Degeneration Symposium. It will be held at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point in Bonita Springs and there will be two sessions from 9 a.m.- noon and 2 until -5 p.m.