There is no cure, but age-related macular degeneration treatments may prevent severe vision loss or slow the progression of the disease considerably. Several treatment options are available, including:
Anti-angiogenic drugs. These medications -- injected into the eye -- block the development of new blood vessels and leakage from the abnormal vessels within the eye that cause wet macular degeneration. This treatment has been a major change in the treatment of this condition and many patients have actually regained vision that was lost. The treatment may need to be repeated on follow-up visits.
It is possible that the main title of the report Macular Degeneration is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.
Laser therapy. High-energy laser light can sometimes be used to destroy actively growing abnormal blood vessels that occur in age-related macular degeneration.
Photodynamic laser therapy. A two-step treatment in which a light-sensitive drug is used to damage the abnormal blood vessels. A medication is injected into the bloodstream to be absorbed by the abnormal blood vessels in the eye. The doctor then shines a cold laser into the eye to activate the drug, damaging the abnormal blood vessels.
Vitamins. A large study performed by the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health, called AREDS -- Age-Related Eye Disease Study -- showed that for certain individuals, vitamins C, E, beta-carotene, zinc, and copper can decrease the risk of vision loss in patients with intermediate to advanced dry age-related macular degeneration. Ask your eye doctor if these vitamin supplements will benefit you before taking them.
Low vision aids. Devices that have special lenses or electronic systems that produce enlarged images of nearby objects. They help people who have vision loss from macular degeneration make the most of their remaining vision.
Researchers are studying new age-related macular degeneration treatments. The following treatments are considered experimental.
Submacular surgery. Surgery to remove the abnormal blood vessels or blood.
Retinal translocation. A surgical procedure used to destroy abnormal blood vessels that are located directly under the center of the macula, where a laser beam cannot be placed safely. In the procedure, the macular center is rotated away from the abnormal blood vessels to a healthy area of the retina, thus preventing the formation of scar tissue and further damage to the retina. Once moved away from the abnormal blood vessels, a laser is used to treat the abnormal blood vessels.
Next Steps for Macular Degeneration
Because some people with the dry form of age-related macular degeneration may develop the wet form, those with the dry form should monitor their vision daily and notify their ophthalmologist of any changes in their vision.
If you have the wet form of macular degeneration, even if it's been treated, you should test your vision to see if any blind spots grow bigger or if any new blind spots appear. New blood vessels can emerge months or years after you have had successful injections or laser treatment.
If only one eye is affected, your ophthalmologist will perform regular eye exams on your other eye to discover any sign of new problems.