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Exploring Macular Degeneration Treatment Options

Macular degeneration is a very common eye disease in people aged 65 and older and it’s a leading cause of vision loss worldwide. There are different treatment options available which will be explained below.

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Dry and Wet Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration comes in two types: dry (atrophic) and wet (neovascular). Dry macular degeneration is the more common of the two, accounting for about 80-90% of macular degeneration cases. It occurs when the macula thins over time, leading to blurry vision or blind spots in your central vision. If you're experiencing blurry vision or blind spots in your central vision, it's a good idea to look for a low vision specialist for an evaluation. On the other hand, wet macular degeneration happens when abnormal blood vessels grow underneath the retina, leaking fluid and causing rapid central vision loss.

While macular degeneration is not curable, the good news is that there are various treatment options available. Each type of macular degeneration has different treatment approaches. As your eye care professional, it's crucial for me to help you understand these treatments to help you make informed decisions.

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Dry Macular Degeneration Treatment

Dry macular degeneration treatment is primarily focused on slowing its progression and managing symptoms. Unfortunately, there's no cure yet for this condition. But research is ongoing, and promising prospects are on the horizon. If you're looking for a low vision optometrist to discuss treatment options, we're here to help at our clinic.

Nutritional Supplements

A significant part of dry macular degeneration treatment involves taking specific nutritional supplements. Studies have shown that vitamins C, E, beta-carotene, zinc, and copper can slow the progression of the disease in people with moderate to severe macular degeneration.

Lifestyle Changes

Another crucial part of managing dry macular degeneration includes making specific lifestyle changes. Regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding smoking can go a long way in managing this condition. Regular check-ups at our eye care clinic are also critical.

Wet Macular Degeneration Treatment

Wet Macular Degeneration Treatment

Unlike dry macular degeneration, there are more treatment options for wet macular degeneration, which aim to stop or slow the growth of those abnormal blood vessels and limit the damage they cause.

Anti-VEGF Therapy

The most common wet macular degeneration treatment involves injections of drugs known as anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) agents. These drugs stop new blood vessel growth and reduce the leakage of fluid that leads to macular damage. Regular injections of these drugs can help stop and even reverse vision loss in many people with wet macular degeneration.

Photodynamic Therapy

Photodynamic therapy is another option for treating wet macular degeneration. This treatment involves injecting a light-sensitive drug into the bloodstream and then shining a laser into the eye to activate the drug. The drug destroys the abnormal blood vessels without causing significant damage to surrounding tissues.

If you're in need of such treatments, it's important to visit our qualified low vision specialist for the best outcomes.

How Can I Find an Eye Doctor Near Me?

How Can I Find an Eye Doctor Near Me?

If you don’t already have a trusted optometrist, you could start your online search by typing in phrases such as "low vision specialist near me," "low vision optometrist near me," or "eye specialist near me."

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Common Questions

VEGF is an acronym which stands for vascular endothelial growth factor and it's a protein that plays a crucial role in developing new blood vessels. In wet AMD, there is a growth spurt of these new blood vessels, however they are unstable, very damaging and must be treated. The anti-VEGF drugs are injected into the eye in order to stop the growth of these abnormal blood vessels. Prior to the injections, the eye is numbed so that no pain will be felt during the treatment. As of now, these anti-VEGF injections are administered every four to six weeks. A tremendous amount of research and efforts are being invested to develop new types of anti-VEGF treatment which will not require frequent administration. In addition, there is hope that treatments being developed today will also cure the disease.
If wet macular degeneration is not treated, it can cause on. The good news is that there is treatment available to slow down and even prevent vision loss. If you start treatment early then it's possible to reverse some of the visual damage that has already been caused by this disease. The goal of the treatment is to block the VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) which is responsible for triggering the growth of unstable blood vessels under your retina. These blood vessels can cause damage to your vision when they begin to leak, hence the name wet macular degeneration. Thankfully there are Anti-VEGF injections which directly treat the source of the damage by blocking the VEGF. It's important to note that great research is being performed to increase the chances of reversing the visual damage that this disease can cause.
Age-related macular degeneration affects older people more often and It’s the leading cause of severely impaired vision in adults over 60. Whereas macular degeneration, which is also sometimes called juvenile macular degeneration is believed to be genetic. Examples of juvenile or non-age related macular degeneration are best disease, stargardts, and juvenile retinoschisis. You might be at a higher risk if someone in your family has the disease. A number of other factors can lead to macular degeneration include smoking, having high blood pressure or high cholesterol, obesity, eating lots of saturated fat, being light-skinned, being female, and having light colored eyes. In both cases of juvenile and age related macular degeneration, the disease leads to central vision loss due to the deterioration of the macula. A low vision optometrist helps patients with age related and juvenile macular degeneration regain their independence by enabling them to have the tools to maximize their remaining vision.
As of now, there is no cure for macular degeneration, whether dry or wet. However, there are effective treatments that can slow its progression and manage symptoms, and in some cases of wet macular degeneration, even improve vision. While these treatments are promising, it's important to remember that regular check-ups with an eye doctor are crucial to monitor the disease and adjust the treatment as necessary.
There are several natural remedies that can help support eye health and slow the progression of macular degeneration, including a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, regular exercise, and not smoking. However, it's essential to note that while these practices can support overall eye health, they are not replacements for professional medical treatment. As an optometrist, I strongly recommend consulting with your eye doctor before initiating any home treatments for macular degeneration.
Studies have shown that certain vitamins and minerals can slow the progression of macular degeneration. These include vitamins C, E, and A (beta-carotene), along with the minerals zinc and copper. Additionally, the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin may also be beneficial. However, it's important to take these supplements under the guidance of an eye care professional, as high doses can have side effects.
The Age-Related Eye Disease Studies (AREDS and AREDS2) found that a combination of vitamins C, E, zinc, copper, lutein, and zeaxanthin can reduce the risk of progression in those with moderate to severe macular degeneration. While these vitamins can be beneficial, it's crucial to consult with our eye doctor before starting any new supplement regimen.
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Summary

Understanding this eye disease and consulting your eye doctor is so crucial to properly treat macular degeneration. When detected early enough, damage from AMD can be prevented by taking the proper precautions. If the condition has advanced to a stage that could cause vision loss, there is effective treatment which directly blocks the source of the damage. Please don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment at our office so you can be checked for macular degeneration and provided the proper treatment when necessary.

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