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What are the Different Options for Age-Related Macular Degeneration Treatment?

By N. Swensson
Updated May 17, 2024
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Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease that can affect people's vision as they get older. There are two main types of the disease, wet AMD and dry AMD. Treatment for wet AMD includes laser surgery, photodynamic therapy, and injections. Treatment for dry AMD may be more limited and can include taking nutritional supplements. In many cases, the disease and associated vision loss may progress even with treatment.

AMD can progress very slowly over time, causing unnoticed vision loss, or it can appear suddenly and with a greater impact on sight. Each type has a different underlying cause and symptoms, and may require different treatments. While some progression of the disease may be unstoppable, there are a number of types of age-related macular degeneration treatment that can help to minimize vision loss.

One type of wet age-related macular degeneration treatment is laser surgery. In this procedure, a laser is used to destroy the fragile and leaky blood vessels that develop in wet AMD and affect the vision. Laser surgery can be effective for some patients with wet AMD, but it depends on the specific location of the affected tissue. One risk associated with this treatment is the accidental destruction of healthy blood vessels, which can cause additional loss of vision.

Another wet age-related macular degeneration treatment option is photodynamic therapy, which involves using a medication called verteporfin to destroy faulty blood vessels. The medication is injected into the body and adheres to new blood vessels in the eye. A strong beam of light is used to activate the medication. An advantage of this treatment is that it will not destroy healthy tissue and can slow the progression of AMD. It does not, however, reverse existing vision loss and may need to be repeated over time.

Wet AMD can also be treated with medications that prevent new leaking blood vessels from forming. The medication is injected directly into the eye. This option may have the advantage of slowing vision loss and may even improve a person's existing sight. The treatment needs to be repeated on a regular basis, often monthly.

Dry AMD in its advanced stage has fewer treatment options than wet AMD, because vision loss cannot be prevented. Treatment focuses on slowing the progression from intermediate to advanced dry AMD. One type of dry age-related macular degeneration treatment involves taking high doses of antioxidants and zinc. Some studies have found these dietary supplements to be useful in slowing the progression of dry AMD and minimizing or delaying vision loss.

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