What Are the Treatments for Wet AMD?

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 straight ahead clearly. 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 condition is.

Anti-VEGF Therapy

This is the most likely treatment your doctor will recommend. 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.

There are three main medicines of this type. They are:

  • Aflibercept (Eylea)
  • Bevacizumab (Avastin)
  • Ranibizumab (Lucentis) 

You get these drugs injected into your eye after it has been numbed.

Nutrition Supplements

Your doctor also may recommend you take supplements using something called the AREDS2 formula.  It contains:

  • 10 milligrams of lutein
  • 2 milligrams of zeaxanthin
  • 500 milligrams of vitamin C
  • Either 25 or 80 milligrams of zinc oxide
  • 2 milligrams of cupric oxide
  • 400 IU of vitamin E

“AREDS” stands for Age-Related Eye Disease Study. The study found that a certain combination of vitamins and nutrients helped with both wet and dry macular degeneration. Researchers later tweaked the formula, giving it the name AREDS2.

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Photodynamic Therapy

This approach 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 eye drop that numbs your eye. When the doctor shines a laser into your eye, it interacts with the medication, activating it. This creates clots in the blood vessels, which closes them and stops more fluid from leaking.

Laser Surgery

Doctors rarely recommend this treatment, which is also called laser photocoagulation. 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.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Alan Kozarsky, MD on August 24, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

National Eye Institute: "Facts about Age-Related Macular Degeneration."

American Macular Degeneration Foundation: "What is Macular Degeneration?"

American Academy of Ophthalmology: "What is Macular Degeneration?" "How Is Macular Degeneration Diagnosed and Treated?" "Anti-VEGF Treatments."

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center: "Macular Degeneration."

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Photodynamic Therapy for Age-Related Macular Degeneration," "Laser Photocoagulation for Age-Related Macular Degeneration."

Mayo Clinic: "Wet Macular Degeneration."

Vision Aware: "What is the Age-Related Eye Disease Study?"

Bright Focus Foundation: "Vitamins for Age-Related Macular Degeneration."

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