People with macular degeneration have a blurry, distorted or dark spot in the center of their vision. The peripheral or side vision is usaully not affected by macualr degeneration.
Macular degeneration can be caused by poor nutrition, smoking or can be inherited. There are two forms of macular degeneration: dry and wet. The dry form is more common and causes slow loss of vision. The wet form is less common, but can cause severe and sudden loss of the central vision. There are no effective treatments for the dry form. The treatments I will discuss today are for the wet form.
The wet form is caused by abnormal blood vessels growing under the macula. In the past, wet macular degeneration was treated with laser or heat treatments to shrink the blood vessels. These treatments were used to stop the vision from getting worse. However, they could only be used with certain patterns of bleeding. Although they were the best treatments at the time, they had disadvantages such as creating scar tissue in the retina and requiring patients to avoid sunlight after the treatments.
Another form of treatment is the use of vitamins to slow the progression of the disease for some patients. An improvement in treatment is the use of steroids. The steroids are injected into the eye and help to reduce the swelling and inflammation that accompanies the bleeding. The steroid injections not only stabilize the vision, but improve it for some patients.
The most effective treatments for wet macular degeneration are injections of antibodies into the eye. The antibodies attack the chemicals that cause blood vessels to grow. This stops the bleeding and growth of the abnormal blood vessels. With these treatments many people are starting to regain the lost vision.
There are several approved antibody injections available today. The names of approved injections are Avastin, Macugen, Lucentis and Eylea. This class of medication was originally used to treat cancer, but was found to work in the eye as well.
These treatments are being performed at the Helena Eye Clinic.
Macular degeneration is a devastating disease affecting many of our loved ones. Fortunately, we are starting to have success in treating this disease and are able to fight back. By having regular eye exams is the only way to make sure you are maintaining your vision of health.