Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration is a common eye condition and a leading cause of vision loss among people age 50 and older.
The disease is most likely to occur after age 60, but it can occur earlier. Other risk factors for AMD include:
- Family history.
Only a comprehensive dilated eye exam can detect AMD. The eye exam may include the following:
- Dilated eye exam. Using a special magnifying lens, we can look at your retina for signs of AMD.
- Fluorescein angiogram. For this test, a fluorescent dye is injected into your arm. Pictures are taken as the dye passes through the blood vessels, allowing us to see leaking blood vessels.
- Optical coherence tomography. This test allows us to see your retina at a microscopic level. After your eyes are dilated, you’ll be asked to place your head on a chin rest and hold still for several seconds while the images are obtained.
What are the two types of AMD?
- Dry AMD
In dry AMD, there is a gradual breakdown of the macula. This causes vision loss. There is no treatment available for dry AMD. Vitamins have been proven to slow the progression of dry and wet AMD.
Researchers at the National Eye Institute tested whether taking nutritional supplements could protect against AMD in a trial named AREDS2, and found that daily intake of certain high-dose vitamins can slow progression of AMD.
Here are the clinically effective doses tested in AREDS2:
- 500 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C
- 400 international units of vitamin E
- 25 mg zinc as zinc oxide
- 2 mg copper as cupric oxide
- 10 mg lutein and 2 mg zeaxanthin
- A number of manufacturers offer nutritional supplements that were formulated based on these studies. The label may refer to "AREDS2."
- Wet AMD
In wet AMD, abnormal blood vessels grow underneath the retina. These vessels can bleed, which may lead to rapid damage of the macula.
Injections. One option to slow the progression of wet AMD is to inject drugs into the eye. If you get this treatment, you may need multiple monthly injections. Before each injection, your eye will be numbed and cleaned with antiseptics. A few different anti-VEGF drugs are available, including Avastin, Lucentis and Eylea. All of these are available, and used routinely in our office.
Laser surgery. This treatment involves aiming a laser at the abnormal blood vessels in your eyes to destroy them. This treatment is more likely to be used when blood vessel growth is away from the center of the macula.