Question

Macular Degeneration

What treatments are available for macular degeneration?

A Answers (5)

  • The treatment options that are available for someone with macular degeneration will depend on the type and severity of his or her disease. Unfortunately, there are not treatments to repair vision damage caused by dry macular degeneration. Some people with the dry type or the wet type in just one eye can help slow the progression of macular degeneration with dietary supplements. A number of treatment options are available to people who have wet macular degeneration, including eye surgery, medications, and implanted devices that may improve vision. These treatments can stop or slow down the disease's progression as well as improve vision.

  • Currently, only the wet form of AMD is treated. When indicated, repeated injections of tiny amounts of drug into the middle of cavity of the eye can stop abnormal blood vessel leakage, growth, and scarring. Occasionally lasers or medications injected into an arm vein and activated in the eye with a laser light are used.

  • AGeorge A. Williams, Ophthalmology, answered on behalf of American Academy of Ophthalmology's EyeSmart
    Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in elderly people. There are new therapies that can prevent severe visual loss in most people with age-related macular degeneration and improve vision in about one-third of people, but these treatments are most effective when they are started early in the course of the disease. For people with advanced disease these treatments are often not helpful.

    It is very unusual to become totally blind (no perception of light) from age-related macular degeneration, and most people maintain peripheral vision which allows them to ambulate, but not read or drive. Some people may benefit from low vision aids. A low vision specialist can provide an evaluation.

    There has been some promising preliminary research concerning stem cell treatments in animals, but a true retina transplant is not available. Another promising area is artificial vision with a retina implant, but unfortunately this is also years away.
  • NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS

    Antioxidant vitamins and zinc may reduce the impact of AMD in some people. A large scientific study found that people at risk for developing advanced stages of AMD lowered their risk by about 25 percent when treated with a high-dose combination of:

    • Vitamin C (500 mg);
    • Vitamin E (400 iu);
    • Beta carotene (15 mg);
    • Zinc (80 mg), and
    • Copper (2 mg).

    Another large study in women showed a benefit from taking folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12. And a large study evaluating the benefits of lutein and fish oil (omega-3) is ongoing.

    Among those who either have no AMD or very early AMD, the supplements do not appear to be beneficial. Family members of patients with AMD should check with their doctor before taking these vitamins themselves.

    It is very important to remember that vitamin supplements are not a cure for AMD, nor will they give you back vision that you may have already lost from the disease. In certain cases, there may be some risks with taking supplements. However, specific amounts of these supplements do play a key role in helping some people at high risk for advanced AMD to maintain their vision. Talk with your ophthalmologist to find out if you are at risk for developing advanced AMD, and to learn if supplements are recommended for you.

    Anti-VEGF Treatments, Laser Sugery and PDT

    The most common treatment for wet AMD involves injecting a drug into the eye that stops blood vessel growth and bleeding. These drugs, known as VEGF blockers or anti-VEGF treatments, target a specific chemical in your body that causes abnormal blood vessels to grow under the retina. That chemical is called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). These anti-VEGF treatments improve vision in some people with wet AMD.

    Certain types of wet macular degeneration can be treated with laser surgery, which is a brief, outpatient procedure that uses a focused beam of light to slow or stop leaking blood vessels that damage the macula.

    A treatment called photodynamic therapy (PDT) uses a combination of a special drug and laser treatment to slow or stop leaking blood vessels.

    These procedures may save more of your sight overall, though they are not cures that bring your vision back to normal. Even with advanced medical treatment, many people with macular degeneration still experience vision loss.

  • AManvi P. Maker, Ophthalmology, answered on behalf of NorthShore University HealthSystem
    Manvi Maker, MD - What treatments are available for macular degeneration?

    The treatment for macular degeneration depends on what kind of macular degeneration the patient has. Watch this video to learn more from Dr. Manvi Maker about the treatments available for macular degeneration.

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