Drug trials to help eye stroke victims

(CBS) -- Jeff Markowitz hopes to regain the vision he's lost. He had a stroke in the eye which happens when blood vessels supplying nutrients and oxygen to the optic nerve get blocked. It can cause sudden vision loss and sometimes blindness.

"By the time I saw the doc, it was kind of like a cloud," he says.

With no effective treatments available, Jeff enrolled in a clinical trial at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai testing a new experimental drug.

"We believe that this molecule has the ability to stop the cascade of events which leads to cell death, actually preserve vision, and possibly restore some of the vision that's been lost," says Dr. Rudrani Banik.

The drug called QPI-1007 is injected into the eye three times over six months. Dr. Banik says it's critical to start treatment within two weeks of symptoms.

"We think there is a window of time in which we should get the drug to the patient," he says.

Jeff doesn't know yet if he's getting the actual drug or a placebo since the study is ongoing. But so far, he says he is seeing better.

"Over the next year, it will take a while to see where I end up and what my vision will be for the rest of my life," he says.

He also discovered he has sleep apnea, which is one of the risk factors for eye stroke.