Although there’s no cure for wet macular degeneration, there are treatments to slow the disease and prevent your eyesight from getting worse. If you start treatment early enough, you might be able to regain some of your lost vision.
The macula is the part of your retina you need to see clearly straight ahead. When you have age-related macular degeneration (AMD), that part of your eye is damaged.
AMD comes in two types: wet (exudative) and dry (atrophic). The dry type is more common than the wet form.
When you have the dry form of AMD, the macula gets thinner as you age and protein deposits grow. These are called drusen. Researchers haven’t found a specific way to treat it.
Wet AMD happens when abnormal blood vessels form under the retina. Blood and other fluids then leak from the vessels, scarring your macula. Several treatments are available for this type.
Your treatment choice will depend, among other things, on how advanced your wet AMD is.
This is the most likely treatment your doctor will recommend for your wet AMD. Your body makes a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). It helps you make new blood vessels. Because “wet” macular degeneration is a problem of abnormal blood vessels, doctors can treat it with drugs that block VEGF.
The main medicines of this type are:
Angiopoietin -2 is another protein involved in blood vessel formation. Ang-2 inhibitors help stabilize these fragile new blood vessels so they don't leak. It also makes vessels less sensitive to the effects of VEGF.
VEGF/Ang-2 inhibitors include:
You get these drugs injected into your eye after it has been numbed.
Your doctor also may recommend you take supplements using something called the AREDS2 formula. It contains:
“AREDS” stands for Age-Related Eye Disease Study. The study found that a certain combination of vitamins and minerals helped with both wet and dry macular degeneration. Researchers later tweaked the formula, giving it the name AREDS2. The supplements are in higher doses than a regular multivitamin. And you can’t get the benefit of these nutrients from the levels you get in your diet.
AREDS are most helpful to slow down dry AMD. But if you have wet AMD in one eye and good vision and dry AMD in the other, the AREDS can slow down the AMD in the eye with good vision.
This wet AMD treatment uses a laser and medicine that reacts to certain types of light.
At the start of the session, your health care professional will inject the drug into a vein in your arm. The medicine then pools in the abnormal blood vessels in your eye.
Next, you’ll get an eyedrop that numbs your eye. When the doctor shines a laser into your eye, it interacts with the medication, activating it. This creates clotting in the blood vessels, which closes them and stops more fluid from leaking.
Doctors rarely recommend this treatment, which is also called laser photocoagulation, for wet AMD. The goal is the same as photodynamic therapy – to seal off leaking blood vessels.
After you get drops to numb your eye, the doctor will use a laser to burn parts of the macula. This seals the leaking blood vessels.