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Is Macular Degeneration Treatable?

Is Macular Degeneration Treatable?


Age-related macular degeneration can be treated with a variety of therapies including drugs, laser therapy, vitamins, diet, and low vision aids.

More Info: Though there is yet no cure for age-related macular degeneration several therapies have proved beneficial as well as a few experimental therapies showing promise. [1]

Which Drugs Are Effective for Age-related Macular Degeneration?

Several anti-angiogenic drugs have been proven effective in the treatment of wet AMD including Bevacizumab, Ranibizumab, Pegaptanib, and Aflibercept.  The drugs are injected directly into the eye and work to block the development of new blood vessels and leakage responsible for wet AMD. If successful, the treatment may even improve vision as the blood vessels shrink allowing the retinal cells to begin to function again. [2] [3]

Laser Therapies for AMD

Photocoagulation and photodynamic therapy are treatment options for some. Photocoagulation involves the use of a laser to destroy abnormal blood vessels beneath the macula. Photodynamic therapy involves the injection of verteporfin into a vein in the arm, which will then travel to the blood vessels in the eyes. A laser is then used to activate the medication, which works to close abnormal blood vessels to stop them from leaking.

Laser therapies are not a treatment option for those with a highly damaged macula or those with abnormal blood vessels directly under the center of the macula. [4]

Are Vitamins Effective for Macular Degeneration?

A breakthrough study conducted by the National Eye Institute discovered that a formulation of antioxidants and zinc can help to reduce the risk of advanced AMD for those at high risk.  (See Are Vitamins Effective for Macular Degeneration)  In the 10-year Age-Related Eye Disease Study, researchers discovered that a particular formulation of antioxidants and zinc, called the AREDS formulation, reduced the risk of developing advanced AMD.  The formulation included vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, zinc oxide, and cupric oxide.  The formulation was most effective for those with intermediate AMD in one or both eyes, and those with advanced AMD in only one eye. [5]

Diet May Be a Preventative Measure

A handful of clinical trials have studied the effects of dietary factors as they relate to age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) with a few showing promise.  In particular, diets that are rich in dark, green leafy vegetables may help to reduce the incidence of ARMD.  These findings go hand-in-hand with the cessation of certain behaviors that include decreasing alcohol consumption and cessation of smoking.  [6]

Experimental Treatments for AMD

Not quite ready for primetime, there are several experimental treatments that are currently being researched or going through clinical trials including a variety of drugs and eye drops, artificial vision, retinal cell transplantation, radiation treatment, and gene silencing. [7]


 [1] [2] WebMD
Age-related Macular Degeneration Treatment

[3] [4] Mayo Clinic
Wet Macular Degeneration Treatment and Drugs

[5] National Eye Institute US National Institutes of Health
What Is the AREDS Formulation?

[6] Journal of the American Optometric Association, Pratt, S.
Dietary Prevention of Age-Related Macular Degeneration
1990, Volume: 70, No: 1, pages: 39-47

Macular Degeneration Research

Resource: National Library of Medicine-National Institutes of Health
Macular Degeneration

Glossary of Terms

Anti-angiogenic: Inhibiting the growth of blood vessels.
The American Heritage Medical Dictionary

Antioxidants: substances that may protect your cells against the effects of free radicals.
US National Library of Medicine

Macula: small and highly sensitive part of the retina responsible for detailed central vision.
St. Luke’s Cataract and Laser Institute

Photocoagulation: uses the heat from a laser to seal or destroy abnormal, leaking blood vessels in the retina.

Photodynamic: treatment that uses special drugs, called photosensitizing agents, along with light.
American Cancer Society 

Expert Opinion

“Treatment can’t reverse dry macular degeneration. But this doesn’t mean you’ll eventually lose all of your sight. Dry macular degeneration usually progresses slowly, and many people with the condition can live relatively normal, productive lives, especially if only one eye is affected. ”

Dry Macular Degeneration Treatments and Drugs   Mayo Clinic

It’s often frustrating for people with dry AMD to see all the treatments and research for wet AMD, when there is no treatment for dry AMD. But that is changing and there are now many investigations underway that may lead to treatment for dry AMD.”

Research Update for Dry AMD

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