Help Man with Rare Eye Disease to See and Many Others

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By Mikayla Lewis

An experimental treatment could help a Midstate man battling a rare optic nerve condition.

"I feel privileged actually to be a test subject," says Doug Oliver.

Doug Oliver is legally blind, and there is no cure for his condition right now.

His Vanderbilt retinal specialist told him to keep an eye out for different clinical trials. Now, one treatment could be worthwhile not only for him, but many people.

Doug Oliver's love for his wife is apparent, but the 53-year-old's never really seen his bride because of a rare eye disease.

Oliver says, "It's called Malattia Leventinese. It's an inherited form of macular degeneration which effects a lot of old people but I've had this since 30."

Nicknamed "honeycomb", there is nothing sweet about the condition killing retinal cells and causing blind spots.

Doug Oliver says, "Not being able to drive, a big loss of independence there, but the most difficult thing is people faces."

His wife, Ann Coble says, "It breaks my heart that he is not able to see his own grandchildren. You're trying to watch them grow up and he is able to see them less and less."

Oliver says, " It makes me emotional to not be able to connect to them like I want to because I can't see them and that's one of the reasons why I am pursuing this treatment."

The Stem Cell Opthamology Treatment Study (SCOTS) director, Dr. Steven Levy says, the experimental procedure puts the patient's own bone marrow stem cells in the damaged eye areas.

Dr. Steven Levy says, " There have been improvements in the patients we've treated with age related macular degeneration . This could be a game changer for many retinal and optic nerve diseases that at this point have no treatment whatsoever."

The privately funded treatment is costing Oliver more than $21,000.

Between the generosity of many off and online he remains optimistic and nearly a quarter of the way there.

" I shake my head and I don't understand how it's coming together. I give God glory."

Oliver and his wife, scheduled the first appointment in August in Fort Lauderdale. He is required to commit to the study for a year. Oliver is still in need of help of reaching his monetary goal before the study is complete.

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