Macular Degeneration Treatment: Get Help with AMD Symptoms

In the years after your 50th birthday, visual acuity may gradually decline. Routine tasks like reading and driving may become more difficult.  Macular degeneration is common among the many eye conditions associated with old age. This condition interferes with the light-sensing part of the retina, and if not treated early, it can lead to a total loss of central vision. There is no cure for age-related macular degeneration, but treatment helps to slow it down and stabilize vision.

What Is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

AMD is a common eye disease among older adults. The risk for developing AMD begins when people reach 50 and worsens every year afterward.

The macula is the central part of the retina responsible for sensing light. This is the area responsible for color vision and central vision. Many photoreceptor cells are located in the macula, and these work to detect light and send signals to the brain for image interpretation.

https://www.asrs.org/patients/retinal-diseases/2/age-related-macular-degeneration

Macular degeneration is the wearing down of these photo-sensitive cells in the eye. The degeneration makes it hard to see clearly, and the more it progresses, the more eyesight deteriorates.

Despite the cold inevitability of old age conditions like AMD, there have been great breakthroughs in medicine, and these inspire hope. Macular degeneration treatment options depend on the type of AMD that you have.

Types and Symptoms of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

The two main types of age-related macular degeneration include dry AMD and wet AMD. The dry form of the condition is the most prevalent and comprises 90% of all diagnosed AMD cases.

Dry AMD

This is the less severe form of macular degeneration. You may get yellow deposits, also known as dusen, underneath your retina. As these grow bigger and multiply, your vision gradually dims and gets distorted. With time, the photoreceptor cells in the macula thin out and die, resulting in loss of central vision.

Symptoms of dry AMD:

  • Distorted vision and different color perception
  • Reduced ability to see in the dark
  • Reduced ability to tell small differences in contrast

Wet AMD

Wet AMD accounts for 10-15% of all diagnosed macular degeneration cases. In this form of AMD, blood vessels develop underneath the macula and leak blood into the retina, leading to vision distortion. This may also lead to blind spots, and if the bleeding causes scar formation, that heightens the risk of permanent loss of central vision.

Symptoms of wet AMD

  • Blurry areas on a person’s face when you are looking at them closely
  • Missing words in a sentence when you are reading
  • Distortion of straight lines

Macular Degeneration Diagnosis

Macular degeneration treatment starts with an in-depth diagnostic work-up. Having routine eye exams can help to detect the degeneration and stop its progression before major damage is done.

During diagnosis, the ophthalmologist checks your eye for signs of yellow spots, fluid or blood under the retina.

AMD diagnosis include:

Amsler test: You may be asked to look at a straight line grid pattern that resembles a checkered board. If some of the lines appear wavy or missing, that could be a sign of AMD.

Dilated eye exam: The retina specialists use an ophthalmoscope to look through the pupil and observe the macula in the back of the eye.

Optical coherence tomography testing (OCT): OCT is an imaging technology that provides high-resolution cross-sectional images of the eye. If you have wet AMD, OCT images will show fluid or blood under your retina.

AMD has several treatment options, including medications and antioxidant treatments, eye injections, and vision aids. Getting regular eye checkups at your local retina care clinic can lead to early detection and an increased success rate of the chosen treatment.

Wet Macular Degeneration Treatment

Anti-VEGF Therapy (Eye Injections)

VEGF stands for Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor, which is released by the retina in cases of wet AMD.  VEGF causes growth of new blood vessels, leakage, and bleeding under the retina. Anti-VEGF medications accomplish two things simultaneously. First, they stop blood vessels from forming underneath the retina. Next, they block any existing blood vessels in these regions from leaking.

In many use cases, patients have been able to regain AMD vision loss using Anti-VEGF drugs. Because the eye injection wears off over time, you will need several follow-up treatments with these medications.

Dry Macular Degeneration Treatment Options

Vitamins

Several studies show that Lutein, Zeaxanthine, vitamins C, E, and Zinc supplements can help protect the health of macula cells. The eye specialist may prescribe these supplements to support the retina’s cell structure for most cases of dry AMD.  Green leafy vegetables and those with hot colors are packed with plenty of vision-enhancing vitamins. They can be significantly beneficial.

The nutritional intervention significantly lowers the risk of central vision loss in patients with both intermediate and advanced dry AMD based on research.

https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2020/poor-diet-macular-degeneration.html

Vision Aides and Intraocular lenses

When advanced AMD occurs, patients frequently benefit from visual aids such as enhanced lighting, specialized glasses, and magnifying lenses.  Low vision specialists, typically optometrists with sub-specialty training in low vision, are helpful in determining which devices and techniques are best suited to the visual limitations of a unique patient.

https://www.sarasotamagazine.com/health-and-fitness/2020/01/macular-degeneration

The eye doctor may discuss the option of intraocular lens implantation surgery. In this type of procedure, a tiny telescope is introduced into your eye. It helps to enlarge objects and overcomes the limitations of the damaged photoreceptor cells. This type of surgery works for some people but may not be good for everyone. Your ophthalmologist will advise.

There are currently no FDA-approved medications for advanced dry AMD. Even so, several new therapies under investigation may one day slow down or reverse the effects of dry AMD. Meanwhile, patients can slow down progression via lifestyle changes:

  • Losing weight
  • Quitting smoking
  • Seeking treatment for high blood pressure
  • Wearing sunglasses whenever in the sun

Living with AMD

Following AMD diagnosis, it is essential to monitor symptoms and make regular visits to the local ophthalmologist. Report any incidences of distorted vision as soon as they occur. The retina specialist may recommend eyeglasses or reading devices that make up for visual deficits.

Macular Degeneration Treatment | Image of RetinaMacular Degeneration Treatment Outlook

https://www.wsj.com/articles/new-treatments-for-macular-degeneration-are-on-the-way-11591658366

People rarely go totally blind from AMD. In severe AMD cases, only central vision is affected. With early detection and AMD treatment, you can avoid even this kind of vision loss. During and after macular degeneration treatment, one typically remains visually functional and can maintain a healthy lifestyle.

However, if AMD affects both your eyes, it may be unsafe to drive or operate machinery. Consult with your eye doctor before you get behind the wheel.

The Best Macular Degeneration Treatment

The latest, approved, and most effective AMD treatment is the anti-VEGF therapy. This is a periodic eye injection that can stop the causes of wet age-related macular degeneration. At first, the procedure may feel a little uncomfortable, but with subsequent therapies, most patients get accustomed to it.

AMD Degeneration Timeline

It takes a long time, an average of ten years, to lose vision with AMD. Typically, in the early AMD stages, there are mild incidences of reduced vision. In the intermediate stage of the condition, things become more blurry. In the late stage of AMD, your vision gets significantly impaired. Straight lines become wavy, and you may struggle to read, drive, or see someone’s face at a distance.

With early diagnosis and treatment of AMD, our macular degeneration specialists can help stop slow down the macula damage before it robs your central vision. We have a variety of macular degeneration treatment options, and we will work with you to determine what’s best for you.

Contact Us Today

Retina Care Consultants, PA, is an expert team of retina specialists offering quality, local eye care services in Manatee County & Sarasota, FL. If you have A.M.D symptoms or other eye health concerns, contact us to set an appointment.