New treatment to prevent blindness gets Govt funding

A treatment which will prevent thousands of Kiwis from losing their sight is about to become more accessible.

It tackles the two leading causes of blindness, and has been granted funding by the Government's pharmaceutical management agency Pharmac. 

It's a breakthrough for the likes of John Gilbert, who initially thought he needed reading glasses but was diagnosed with early onset macular degeneration, which causes loss in the centre of the field of vision.

Mr Gilbert said he tried some early treatments funded by the Government, but none of them were effective. 

Dr Dianne Sharp has been using a treatment called Eylea on patients for five years with positive results. 

The treatment will be funded by Pharmac from Friday onwards, which Dr Sharp says is a much-needed second-line treatment for people with conditions that cause blindness.

The treatment is injected into the eye on average once every two months.

It's expected to help save the sight of around 900 people in its first year - people for whom the alternative funded treatments are not effective.

John Gilbert admits he's still not keen on the thought of the injections, but says they're worth it.

"I can drive, I can work, I can play - I'm very, very fortunate," he says.