What are the Different Types of Macular Degeneration Treatments?

Jacquelyn Gilchrist

There is no cure for this eye condition, however patients may try a few different macular degeneration treatments. Depending on the exact type of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), patients may try vitamin and mineral supplements, diet modifications, and drugs to slow the progression of this disease. Surgery may also be an option for some people. Coping mechanisms, such as low-vision aids, can help one deal with gradual vision loss.

Early diagnosis helps to manage macular degeneration.
Early diagnosis helps to manage macular degeneration.

An optometrist will first need to diagnose the type of AMD to determine the appropriate treatment plan. Dry macular degeneration, or non-neovascular AMD, occurs as the blood vessels in the eye become thin. Deposits form, creating blurred central vision.

Laser surgery can sometimes be used to treat macular degeneration.
Laser surgery can sometimes be used to treat macular degeneration.

Wet, or neovascular, macular degeneration is less common. This happens when abnormal, fragile blood vessels grow in response to old blood vessels becoming brittle. The abnormal ones begin leaking, damaging the eye and causing vision loss.

Early diagnosis is important. An optometrist can recommend the most appropriate macular degeneration treatment to delay the disease's progression as soon as possible. People should have their eyes examined every year.

A healthy diet is the only recourse for dry AMD as there are no macular degeneration treatments available. Patients should eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, healthy unsaturated fats, and whole grains, as well as fish, which contains omega-3 fatty acids. It is recommended that people consume 2 milligrams (mg) of copper, 80 mg of zinc, 500 mg of vitamin C, and 400 international units (IU) of beta-carotene daily. Smokers should not take these supplements, due to the increased risk of cancer.

Macular degeneration treatments for wet AMD may include these supplements as well as some medications. Drugs, like anti-angiogenesis medications, that slow the growth of new blood vessels may be helpful. Some examples include ranibizumab and bevacizumab. A doctor will administer the appropriate drug by painlessly injecting it into the eye.

Another possibility is laser surgery, or laser photocoagulation. In this process, the optometrist uses a small laser to destroy the leaking blood vessels in the eye. This may help slow the vision loss.

Patients may also consider photodynamic therapy. With this approach, the doctor will inject a drug into the eye. He will then aim a light at the eye to activate the drug, which will target and destroy abnormal blood vessels.

When these macular degeneration treatments are insufficient and the disease is advanced, people may consider various coping mechanisms. They may use a magnifier or additional light to aid vision. A surgically-implanted telescopic lens in the eye is also a possibility. This device can help with both close-up and distance vision. Patients should carefully consider all the different types of macular degeneration treatments with their doctor before undergoing any kind of therapy or surgery.

Age-related macular degeneration is a progressive disorder that can cause blindness.
Age-related macular degeneration is a progressive disorder that can cause blindness.

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