Treatment for Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (also known as AMD) is the most common cause of visual loss in adults in the developed world.  It affects the macula which is the most sensitive part of the retina.

Risk factors of AMD

  • People over the age of 60 years
  • Family history
  • Smoking

Symptoms of AMD

  • Blurring of central vision
  • Distorted central vision (known as metamorphopsia) where straight lines look crooked
Normal eye
AMD eye

2 Types of AMD

There are two forms of AMD namely Dry and Wet.  There is a variant of AMD which affects mainly Asians known as Polypoidal Choroidal Vasculopathy (PCV) where a patient can suddenly get sudden loss of vision without any signs of AMD.

Dry AMD: Dry AMD occurs when the light-sensitive cells in the macula slowly break down (due to age) resulting in gradual blurring central vision in the affected eye. As dry AMD gets worse, you may see a blurred spot in the centre of your vision.  Patients with dry AMD are also at higher risk to progress to wet AMD.  There is no treatment for AMD but diet and change of lifestyle can help slow the progression of AMD (Click to read Diet for Age-Related Macula Degeneration)

Wet AMD:  Wet AMD occurs when abnormal blood vessels behind the retina start to grow under the macula. These new blood vessels are fragile and can often leak blood and fluid resulting in sudden loss of central vision.  Wet AMD needs to be treated.

Image from Acucela

Tests for Macular Degeneration

AMD can be diagnosed by careful examination by an eye doctor. The doctor may perform further tests like optical coherence tomography (OCT), fluorescein angiogram (FFA) or indocyanine green angiography (ICG). These tests can help determine the type of AMD and what treatment should be given.

Click to watch AmerraMedical video on Treatment of AMD

Treatment for Wet AMD

There are several treatment options for AMD.

1. Intra-Vitreal Eye injection with drugs called anti-VEGF agents is the most common treatment for wet AMD. These agents block VEGF (Vascular Endothelium Growth factors) produced by the eye that causes the growth of the fragile abnormal blood vessels in wet AMD.  These injections may need to be repeated every 2-3 months for up to 1 year.  The options of anti-VEGF agents are

  • Lucentis (Ranibizumab)
  • Avastin (Bevacizumab)
  • Eylea (Aflibercept)

2. Photodynamic laser therapy (PDT) in combination with an injection of anti-VEGF agent may be used on certain occasions. PDT involves using a special drug called verteporfin being injected into your vein. This drug will collect in the abnormal blood vessels that are leaking at the macula. A  special laser beam is then used to activate the verteporfin which causes the leaking blood vessels to close up and stop leaking.

3. Vitrectomy surgery may sometimes be required to remove excess bleeding from the wet AMD.  This surgery may be done in combination with anti-VEGF injection, gas or laser treatment.

Risks of AMD treatment

There are some possible side-effects of the treatment which include

  • Floaters
  • Increased eye pressure which can cause eye pain
  • Bleeding or haemorrhage
  • Retina detachment
  • Eye infection

How to Take Care after AMD treatment

  • Stop smoking if you are a smoker
  • Change your diet to a more healthy one with more green and leafy vegetables
  • Consider taking supplements rich in lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acid, zinc, vitamin C & E 
  • Do a self eye check with the Amsler grid chart (see above) regularly (such as every week) to check for any deterioration or change in vision in between visits to your eye doctor

Check your vision regularly (at least once a week) using Amsler Grid and Vision Chart to monitor your condition

Disclaimer. TELEME blog posts contains general information about health conditions and treatments. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. 

If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

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