Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
1. What does the diagnosis of AMD mean exactly?
The diagnosis of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) means that the central part of the retina, the macula, have been damaged. The macula is responsible for the high-resolution part of our vision. Damage to the macula can result in difficulties with reading, recognizing faces and other detail tasks.
2. I understand there are two types of AMD. What is the difference between dry and wet AMD?
Wet AMD means that there is bleeding behind the macula. Dry AMD does not involve any bleeding.
3. Please describe the typical progression for an individual with AMD.
With dry AMD, the progression is typically slow. Vision loss typically occurs over a period of several years. Wet AMD can involve rapid changes in vision even over a period of days.
4. What treatment options are available for this condition?
Wet AMD is typically treated with an eye injection of an anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) drug that blocks growth of new blood vessels. These new blood vessels are responsible for the bleeding behind the macula associated with wet AMD. These injections are often needed monthly for an indefinite period of time. There are no curative treatments for either the wet or dry AMD. However, good nutrition, not smoking, and protection from the sun can reduce the risk of advancement of the disease.
5. What are the risks and side effects associated with these treatments? What if I don’t proceed with treatment?
Infection, inflammation, glaucoma, and retinal detachment are potential risks of anti-VEGF injections. Vitamin supplements recommended for AMD should comply with the National Institute of Health’s protocol referred to as AREDS or AREDS2. These supplements are typically taken in conjunction with a multi-vitamin. It would be appropriate to consult your primary care physician prior to beginning vitamin therapy. Individuals who smoke or formally smoked should avoid supplements with beta-carotene. Not pursuing treatment options increases the likelihood of further, more severe vision loss.
6. Regardless of the cost or coverage of my insurance, what are some alternative treatments?
There are no proven alternative treatments for AMD. Caution should be used with any individual or clinic promoting alternative curative therapies for AMD.
7. Will a change in my glasses prescription help at all?
Individuals with early or intermediate stages of AMD may benefit from changing their prescription in their general wear glasses. Often higher powered reading glasses or bifocals are needed to read comfortably. A low vision evaluation is appropriate for individuals who have experienced moderate to severe vision loss from AMD. This evaluation involves determining the degree of magnification needed to perform certain tasks like reading. Various devices are demonstrated to use for the tasks needed. These devices may include high powered readers, magnifiers, telescopes, and closed-circuit televisions (CCTV).
8. What can a person do to protect or prolong their vision?
Protection from UV light, good nutrition and not smoking can protect and prolong an individual’s vision.
9. Can you recommend a vitamin program for me that might be helpful?
Vitamin supplements recommended for AMD should comply with the National Institute of Health’s protocol referred to as AREDS or AREDS2. These supplements are typically taken in conjunction with a multi-vitamin. It would be appropriate to consult your primary care physician prior to beginning vitamin therapy. Individuals who smoke or formally smoked should avoid supplements with beta-carotene.