What is the Most Common Wet Macular Degeneration Treatment?

Bill C.

Wet macular degeneration treatment is such a rapidly growing field that it's difficult at any given moment to pinpoint the most common therapy for this vision-threatening condition. One of the more recent advances, however, injecting the drugs Lucentis&Reg; or Avastin&Reg; directly into the anesthetized affected eye to arrest or lessen the disease has become increasingly common and has generally proven to be highly effective. Another popular form of treatment uses cold laser light to activate the drug Visudyne&Reg;, which has been injected into the bloodstream. A third less common form of therapy is laser surgery. There is no cure for wet macular degeneration, but treatment tailored to the individual suffering from it can often slow or arrest loss of vision.

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

Wet macular degeneration is a chronic disease that causes the central vision to decline. All three kinds of common wet macular degeneration treatment focus on stopping or reducing the flow of blood from new abnormal blood vessels that form behind the retina and damage it. Damage is typically in the area controlling central vision, the macula. In the injectable drug treatment, chemicals stop the bleeding and arrest the growth of the new blood vessels. The two-pronged laser and bloodstream-injection treatment, which typically is used together with other treatments, seals off the blood vessels. Laser surgery stops blood flow through coagulation by burning the area of the retina containing the new blood vessels with a high-energy laser beam.

The injectable drug approach to wet macular degeneration treatment is repeated at four- to six-week intervals to keep the bleeding stopped and prevent further loss of vision. It usually has only minor side effects such as redness and soreness in the eye. Laser-injection combination treatments are generally repeated every three months to keep the disease in check. Side effects are usually confined to headache, soreness at the point of the injection, and sensitivity to light for approximately five days. Laser surgery effectively stops bleeding but sometimes has to be repeated if the condition reoccurs. Although patients generally suffer only minor pain during and after surgery, burning by the laser does create a blind spot; so some loss of vision is inevitable.

More than 200,000 people a year in the United States need wet macular degeneration treatment. That only amounts to about 15 percent of those with the more common dry macular degeneration, which usually is caused by thinning of macula tissue resulting from aging. Most people with wet macular degeneration contract it as the result of having the dry version that has progressed. Although wet macular degeneration only occurs in a small percentage of people who have macular degeneration, that number accounts for approximately two-thirds of those suffering significant loss of vision.

Individuals with a family history of wet macular degeneration are most susceptible to the disease. Symptoms indicating the possible need for wet macular degeneration treatment include blurred vision, straight lines seeming crooked, and/or a dark area in the center of vision. Ways to help prevent contracting the disease include not smoking, eating fruits and vegetables, refraining from animal fat, maintaining a healthy body weight, and exercising regularly.

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