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- Treatment Overview
Macular Degeneration Treatment Overview
First steps to consider
- See an ophthalmologist (eye doctor) or optometrist (vision specialist) as soon as possible.
- Macular degeneration is treated with antioxidants, injections, and laser therapy.
Go to the ER if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Seeing flashes of light in one or both eyes
- Suddenly seeing a lot of floaters (small, dark shapes that can look like spots, threads, or squiggly lines) drifting through your field of vision
- Darkening of your peripheral vision (the outer areas of your vision field)
- Darkening or curtain-like shadowing covering part of your vision
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When to see a healthcare provider
Always see a healthcare provider—either an ophthalmologist or optometrist—if you have signs of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Symptoms include vision loss in the central part of your vision, blurred vision or waviness in the center part of your vision, difficulty seeing at night, and difficulty reading.
It’s important to see a doctor because AMD can lead to progressive vision loss and blindness. While there is no cure for AMD, treatment can slow the progression of the disease. Your doctor will also want to monitor you for complications of AMD, like hallucinations and depression.
An optometrist or ophthalmologist will check for signs of AMD during a comprehensive dilated eye exam. Other tests used to diagnose the condition include:
- Optical coherence tomography (OCT), which gives detailed images of the retina.
- Fluorescein angiography. A colored dye is given through an IV and circulates to the eye, where a special camera checks for changes to the retina and abnormal blood vessels.
- Indocyanine green angiography, which is similar to fluorescein angiography, may also be used to see if you have dry or wet AMD.
What to expect from your doctor visit
- Your healthcare provider may recommend taking antioxidants known as “AREDS” and “AREDS2.” They contain a combination of vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc, along with either beta-carotene or lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants reduce the risk of progressing from dry AMD to wet AMD, and are also used to treat AMD.
- If you have wet AMD, you will likely be given injections into the retina with medications called VEGF-inhibitors. These target VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) to decrease the growth of abnormal blood vessels.
- Another option for wet AMD is photodynamic therapy, which is a combination of injections and laser treatments. It damages the abnormal blood vessels to stop them from leaking. While it can temporarily help, new blood vessels return.
Types of macular degeneration providers
- An ophthalmologist, a medical doctor who specializes in treating diseases of the eye, can diagnose and treat AMD.
- An optometrist, another type of eye specialist, can prescribe glasses and low-vision devices and help monitor the disease.
Treating macular degeneration at home
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) should always be treated by an ophthalmologist (medical doctor who treats the eyes) or optometrist (vision doctor).
The only type of home treatment for AMD is taking antioxidants known as “AREDS” and “AREDS2.” These contain a combination of vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, and other antioxidants. They are recommended for both dry and wet AMD.
Wellness and prevention
- Do not smoke, vape, or chew tobacco.
- Protect your eyes from sun exposure.
- Eat a diet high in dark green leafy vegetables.
- Reduce risks for cardiovascular disease by maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, and eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.