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Macular Degeneration Health Center

Understanding Macular Degeneration -- Diagnosis and Treatment

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How Is Macular Degeneration Treated? continued...

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) uses a different, non-heat-generating laser to treat abnormal blood vessels. Visudyne is injected into the patient's arm and flows through the vessels in the eye. Upon exposure to the laser, a chemical reaction occurs that seals off the leaky vessels. Since the dye is light sensitive, you must stay out of the sun or bright light for several days until the dye has passed from your system. Laser photocoagulation must be done before the abnormal blood vessels cause irreversible damage to the retina. More blood vessels could grow later on, so people who undergo this treatment also need to continue with regular follow-up appointments.

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 macular degeneration. In addition, there was a correlation between the hormone DHEA and the degree of macular degeneration. DHEA can be purchased over-the-counter.

However, the ingredients of vision supplements may change with the completion of the AREDS2 study. This study sought to see if adding other vitamins and mineral to the supplement would improve results of the AREDS. The first addition was omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil), and the second was a combination of two carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, which are found in leafy green vegetables and highly colored fruits and vegetables. The research showed:  

  • Beta-carotene did not reduce the risk of progression of AMD.  
  • Adding omega-3 to the AREDS formula did not reduce risk of progression of AMD.
  • The AREDS formula was still found to be protective with less zinc added.
  • People that took a formula with lutein and zeaxanthin and who may not have been taking enough in their diet showed further improve with the new AREDS formula.
  • In general, people who took lutein and zeaxanthin instead of beta-carotene had more of a benefit.

 

How Can I Prevent Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration cannot be prevented, but smoking is the number one risk factor in developing the disorder, so quit smoking to stem further deterioration. See your eye doctor if you have any symptoms of AMD, and make sure you keep regularly scheduled eye exams.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Brian S. Boxer Wachler, MD on March 12, 2014
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