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Dr. Sam Mansour Presents ARMD Update

posted Feb 28, 2014, 6:58 PM by Jen Weigel
Dr. Sam Mansour, Medical Director of the Virginia Retina Center, presented a thorough ARMD update.  He recently attended an ARMD conference in Hawaii - hey, someone's gotta do it! - and came back with a bucket load of information.  The Virginia Retina Center has three locations in Warrenton, Leesburg, and Culpeper, allowing residents in western counties to have access to advanced retinal care close to home.

One particularly interesting portion of Dr. Mansour's lecture involved the topic of genetic testing.  I remember doing a high school research paper on the ethical considerations that come along with genetic testing.  One of the philosophical questions was what to do when you have a genetic test with the power to say that a patient with develop X disease in their future ... yet technology had yet to develop a cure for a disease that could potentially - or in some cases, definitively - result in death? 

Dr. Mansour presented the case of Huntington's Disease in which this very instance happened.  People with family histories of this disease had genetic testing that confirmed the presence of the gene responsible for this disease.  Without a cure for this disease, there were documented cases in which people committed suicide to avoid the disease's slow progression resulting in loss of muscular and cognitive control.  When this happened, Dr. Mansour said that the NIH then restricted the release of genetic tests.  Genetic tests could only be used for diseases that could be treated with readily available and reliable medications.  This concept was applied to genetic testing for ARMD. 

It was also interesting to hear Dr. Mansour apply concepts from the genetics class that I took as an undergrad at the University of Texas at Austin - big shout out to our Longhorns as they hopefully dominate the NCAA Basketball Tourney - with probably the most energetic professor of all time.  I'd never really thought of the genetic markers for ARMD as genotypes and the retinal manifestations that we observe in our patients as phenotypes of the disease.

Dr. Sam Mansour CE

Monday's lecture came after a very long clinic day full of challenging cases.  Listening to Dr. Mansour speak was actually quite relaxing.  His voice is very soothing and zen-like.  I felt like if I were having a serious retinal issue with my own eyes, then it would be very comforting to have him explain what was happening in a very understandable manner and then proceed to take care of my issue using the most advanced knowledge and technology available. 

Thanks also to Karen for helping Joan organize this event.  What a great help Karen was with every single step of the process!  And, it was so good to see her familiar face!  - jw