How Age Related Macular Degeneration Is Most Commonly Treated
Age-related macular degeneration, also called macular degeneration, is the leading cause of vision loss in the United States. It affects about 6.5 % of people over 40, and the number of people affected by it increases every year. In 2000, there were 1.75 million cases of AMD. In 2010, there were 2.07 million reported cases. By 2050, the number of people diagnosed with AMD is expected to more than double to 5.44 million.
There is no cure for age-related macular degeneration, but regular eye exams, early diagnosis, and treatments can help you preserve your vision and prevent the disease from progressing.
What is age-related macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration is the deterioration of the macula, which is a small area of the retina. When the macula becomes impaired, so does your vision. With macular degeneration, you slowly lose your ability to see fine details. Symptoms include:
- Blurry vision
- Blind spots
- Straight lines that appear wavy
- Sensitivity to glare
There are two types of AMD. The most common type is dry macular degeneration, which affects about 80% to 90% of those with AMD. This type of AMD develops slowly with few warning symptoms or pain. The deterioration of the macula leads to the development of small yellowish deposits, called drusen, on the retina.
Dry AMD is commonly referred to as early AMD. About 10% to 15% of those with dry AMD progress to wet AMD, which is a more advanced type of AMD. With wet AMD, abnormal blood vessels form under the retina. These blood vessels can leak fluid or bleed, causing pressure and buildup in the macula.
Common treatments for age-related macular degeneration
Since there is no cure for AMD, your best bet is to focus on healthy lifestyle habits to reduce your risk of developing it. These healthy habits may also prevent early AMD from progressing to advanced AMD. They include:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Eating a healthy diet chock full of green, leafy vegetables and fish
- Exercising regularly
- Quitting smoking
- Keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check
Unfortunately, there are no clinically proven treatments for early AMD. But one large study did find that a combination of certain vitamins and minerals may slow the progression of AMD and preserve your vision.
For advanced AMD, there are options to help prevent further vision loss. These options include:
Anti-VEGF drugs, which are injected directly into the eye as a painless office procedure, help reduce the number of abnormal blood vessels as well as prevent those that have already formed from leaking. This is the gold standard of care and offered at all our University Retina locations.
For rare cases, laser surgery can also be used to minimize the number of abnormal blood vessels and prevent them from leaking. The procedure involves focusing a hot laser at the abnormal blood vessels to destroy them.
This therapy is also a laser procedure. The first part of this treatment is an injection of a drug into your arm that targets the abnormal blood vessels. After the abnormal blood vessels absorb the drug, the laser targets these blood vessels and activates the drug. When activated, the drug shrinks the abnormal blood vessels and stops the leaking.
The specialists at University Retina develop an individual treatment plan to best improve your eye health and preserve your vision.