How can wet AMD be treated?Wet macular degeneration can now very often be halted and in some cases even be reversed to some degree with the help of drugs that are injected into the eye. These drugs, known as anti-VEGF are scientific miracles having helped millions of patients stabilize and improve their vision for a disease that until recently had limited treatments and lead to serious changes in one’s life.
Researchers have found that a chemical called vascular endothelial growth factor, or VEGF, is critical in causing abnormal blood vessels to grow under the retina. Scientists have developed several new drugs that can block the trouble-causing VEGF. These are referred to as “anti-VEGF” drugs, and they help block abnormal blood vessels, slow their leakage, and help reduce vision loss.
Treatment with the anti-VEGF drug is usually performed by injecting the medicine with a very fine needle into the back of your eye. Prior to that the eye is cleaned and anesthetic drops or medicine is administered to reduce eye pain. Usually, patients receive multiple anti-VEGF injections over the course of many months. There is a small risk of complications with anti-VEGF treatment, usually resulting from the injection itself. However, for most people, the benefits of this treatment outweigh the small risk of complications.
Anti-VEGF medications are a step forward in the treatment of wet AMD because they target the underlying cause of abnormal blood vessel growth. This treatment offers new hope to those affected with wet AMD. Although not every patient benefits from anti-VEGF treatment, a large majority of patients achieve stabilized vision, and a significant percentage can improve to some degree. We have been treating our patients with Avastin, Lucentis, and more recently Eylea. In some cases, the injections can be combined with the special laser treatments.
How can dry AMD be treated?The most effective treatment for dry AMD is a vitamin/mineral combination as outlined in the Age Related Eye Disease Study 2, AREDS 2. It was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and the 5 year results were completed in 2013. This is the latest proven regimen to reduce the risk of progression to advanced AMD. It was a study of nearly 4200 participants that were assigned randomly into different groups. This study also found that omega - 3 did not reduce the risk of disease progression. Also, nearly 90% of patients were taking a multivitamin, Centrum and did not experience an adverse effect.
The AREDS2 vitamins formula is as follows:
• Lutein: 10 mg
• Zeaxanthin: 2 mg
• Zinc: 80 mg
• Copper: 2 mg
• Vitamin C: 500 mg
• Vitamin E: 400 IU
• Zinc: 80 mg
• Copper: 2 mg
What is the future of AMD treatments?AMD is one of the most extensively studied and researched areas in ophthalmology. We are learning more about the genes implicated in the disease as well as new treatments. There are multiple therapies that being studied in clinical practices and academic institutions throughout the world. There is promising research on going to find ways to slow down dry AMD. Also, ways to extend the treatment for wet AMD patients is being evaluated with different treatment protocols and new therapies. The future of patients suffering from AMD is promising as it has ever been with newer treatment options will likely be available over the next several years.
For information and consultation regarding treatment for Macular Degeneration, contact our main office at (405) 607-6699.