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Age–related macular degeration (AMD) is a disease that affects the part of the eye’s retina called the macula. It is a fairly common disease in older adults. People with the with a more advanced state of the disease may experience blurry vision or black spots in their field of view.

Currently there is no cure for AMD. However, macular degeneration treatments can help prevent severe vision loss and preserve as much of the patient’s vision as possible. Receiving treatment can significantly help a patient’s vision and quality of life.

There are a variety of macular degeneration treatment options. They include anti–angiogenic therapy, laser therapy, photodynamic laser therapy, vitamins, and low vision aids. Typically these types of therapies are perfomed on persons with wet macular degeneration, which is the more serious form of the disease. Only about 15% of people with AMD have the “wet” form of the disease.

Different Types of Treatment

Inside the human eye

Illustration of the retina in the human eye

Anti–angiogenic therapy is a new form of treatment. They are drugs that are injected directly into the vitreous of the eye. These injections have to be repeated on a monthly or bi–monthly basis to treat the condition. Anti–angiogenic therapy causes less damage to the retina than laser treatments. Side effects to the treatments may include redness and scratchiness in the eyeball.

Laser therapy involves using high–energy laser light to destroy actively growing abnormal blood vessels that occur in macular degeneration. The loss of blood and fluid in the vessels can leave scars in the macula, which leads to irreversible damage to the photoreceptors and permanent central vision loss.

Photodynamic laser therapy is a two–step treatment in which a light sensitive drug is used to damage the afflicted blood vessels. In this form of macular degeneration therapy, a doctor injects the drug into the blood stream for it to be absorbed by the afflicted blood vessels in the eye. Once injected, the doctor then shines a cold laser into the eye to activate the drug, which damages the afflicted blood vessels, helping to prevent them from spreading.

Other Types of Treatment

A study performed by the National Eye Institute of Health showed that certain vitamins and minerals helped some patients with AMD. Vitamin supplements such as Vitamins A, C, and E, and the organic compound beta–carotene were found to have positive impacts for some patients. Minerals such as copper and zinc were also found to be effective in decreasing vision loss in patients with intermediate to advanced AMD.

Macular degeneration research is being conducted to identify additional vitamin and mineral combinations that may effectively treat the disease. As always, consult with your doctor before taking vitamin or mineral supplements.

Another macular degeneration treatment method is low vision aids. They are devices that have special lenses or electronic systems that enlarge images of nearby objects. Since AMD patients often have vision loss or blurry vision, low vision aids are designed to help patients see nearby objects more clearly and make the most of their remaining vision.

Benefits of Treatment

While they do not cure the disease, these macular degeneration treatment methods can have a significantly positive impact on a patients.

Medical professionals that specialize in macular degeneration treatment include optometrists, ophthalmologists, and vitreoretinal surgeons. However, even simple eye examinations by a doctor can detect AMD, which may also start out as painless and unnoticeable to the patient.