Treatment Options For Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

You've been seeing small gray areas in your vision. Your eye doctor says you have signs of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). It's a good thing that you went in for an exam, because treatment can slow down the progression of the disease and your loss of vision. Here is what you need to know about the forms of AMD and the current treatments used to prevent it from robbing you of your sight.

Two Causes of AMD

In each of these, the retina is damaged so light can't get to it. In severe cases, partial or complete blindness can happen if the condition is left untreated. Knowing which type of AMD you have determines the treatment approach that your ophthalmologist will suggest.

  • Wet AMD - Tiny, weak blood vessels form on the retina. These vessels allow fluid to leak out onto the surface of the retina. The fluid partially blocks the light causing you to have blurry vision. Focusing on a single object is difficult.
  • Dry AMD - Small yellow deposits appear in the center of the retina in an area called the macula. This causes you to have dark spots in the center of your vision.

Treatment of AMD

Neither of these eye diseases can be cured, but treatment can slow down the loss of vision. Luckily, both conditions progress slowly so the amount of loss may be minimal before treatment is started.

Treating Wet AMD

  • Medication to stop the growth of the blood vessels - This is usually the first treatment choice. A medication is injected into the eye to block the chemicals which trigger the growth of new blood vessels. You may need injections monthly to continue seeing results. As these tiny blood vessels shrink and the fluid leaked from them is absorbed by the eye, you may regain some of the vision you lost.
  • Medication to cause the blood vessels to close - A medication can be injected into your blood stream that makes its way to the vessels in your eye. Your doctor shines a special light onto the blood vessels on the retina which activates the medication, causing the vessels to close and stop leaking. This treatment may also need to be repeated to prevent the blood vessels from reopening.
  • Laser surgery to destroy the blood vessels - This procedure uses a laser light to dry up the tiny blood vessels and their leaks. It also can target the wet areas to clear them away from the retina.

Treating Dry AMD

  • Vitamin therapy - Increasing certain vitamins in your diet can prevent the development of the deposits created on the retina. Your eye doctor will discuss diet changes and vitamin supplements that will give you the recommended levels. The important vitamins in this treatment include:
    • Vitamin C
    • Vitamin E
    • Vitamin A
    • Zinc
    • Copper
  • Insertion of a lens - If you have severe dry AMD in both eyes, surgical placement of a lens in one or both eyes can improve your vision. This doesn't stop the disease but will allow you to live with the dry patches on the retina.
  • Laser treatment - On a rare occasion, your doctor may recommend laser surgery to clear up some of the dry spots. This is not often used because it can lead to the development of wet AMD.

If you are suffering vision loss, don't hesitate to seek treatment from an eye doctor like those at Arizona Eye Specialists. If you have AMD, the sooner you seek treatment, the better your outcome will be.