There are several treatment options available for macular degeneration, though as yet there is no cure for the disease. Macular degeneration medication and surgery have both been proven to slow progression of the disease; however, some advanced cases are untreatable with the techniques available today. All of the macular degeneration treatment options offer hope of achieving the desired results - sealing the new blood vessels and preventing further vision loss - though each method goes about it in different ways.
Vitamins and Minerals
Dry macular degeneration is still largely untreatable, though changes in diet (including the addition of antioxidant and nutrient supplements) can help slow the progression. It has recently been learned that patients who already show symptoms of macular degeneration and take antioxidant supplements with zinc, as well as vitamins A, C and E, show a dramatic decrease in macular degeneration progression. However, because high doses of supplements can be dangerous, do not begin or increase intake of antioxidants and zinc without first consulting your physician.
Laser Eye Surgery or Photodynamic Therapy
If diagnosed early, wet macular degeneration can be treated with laser eye surgery or photodynamic therapy (PDT). This treatment can stop further formation of blood vessels, but it cannot reverse damage that has already been done. Recovery from these procedures is generally relatively fast, and the pain is minimal.
Thermal Laser Photocoagulation Surgery
Thermal laser photocoagulation surgery is the only proven surgical treatment option available for individuals with wet macular degeneration, and less than 20 percent of individuals with this type of macular degeneration are good candidates. By treating the abnormal blood vessels that have formed on the retina, laser surgery can delay advancement of the disease. Without laser photocoagulation surgery, the blood vessels will continue to grow and leak, further reducing vision. Research and surgical trials for other macular degeneration surgery options, including submacular surgery and macular translocation surgery, are currently underway. Experts are still weighing the overall benefits and risks of these experimental surgeries, and the candidacy for each is very limited as well. Photocoagulation and photodynamic therapy (PDT) seek to close vessels through the use of lasers,
Though rare, possible macular degeneration surgery complications can include acceleration of several degenerative eye conditions, such as glaucoma (elevated pressure in the eye) and cataracts (clouding of the lens). In very rare instances, retinal detachment and severe loss of vision can occur as a result of surgery. As with any other surgical procedure, macular degeneration surgery complications can include bleeding and infection as well.
A class of drugs called anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) medications is often prescribed to slow or inhibit the formation of abnormal blood vessels in individuals with wet macular degeneration. These medications seek to inhibit the growth of new blood vessels in those suffering from the disease. Though currently there is no drug that can relieve the symptoms - and surgical procedures have not yet reached the point where they can reverse the disease - those suffering from macular degeneration may have hope that medication combined with surgery or laser treatment will provide substantial results in the future.
Macular Degeneration Treatment Recovery
The recovery from macular degeneration treatment varies as widely as the results of the treatment itself. Treatment ranges from a wide variety of drugs and medications to surgery. As such, the recovery can be as simple as taking a pill or as complex as dealing with macular degeneration surgery complications. The type of treatment you must undergo will be decided by you and your doctor.
There are a number of different macular degeneration treatment options available, and the results they offer can vary widely. The newest macular degeneration treatments revolve around drugs called anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) medications. These medications stop the growth of choroidal neovascularizations (CNVs), which are the blood vessels responsible for the damage caused by wet macular degeneration. These drugs include Macugen®, Lucentis™, and Avastin®. These treatments are still relatively new, and as such the side effects are not widely known.
Macular degeneration surgery options are accompanied by several potential complications, and are only available for approximately 20 percent of macular degeneration patients.
Macular Degeneration Treatment Results
All of the macular degeneration treatment options offer hope of achieving the desired results—sealing the new blood vessels and preventing further vision loss—though each method goes about it in different ways. Photocoagulation and photodynamic therapy (PDT) seek to close vessels through the use of lasers, while macular translocation surgery, which is still being explored, seeks to relocate the macula itself to healthy tissue. The laser treatments have proven effective in slowing or halting vision loss, and the translocation surgery has even shown promise in restoring some lost vision; however, none of these surgeries are suitable for all patients, and candidacy is determined by the location of the damage.
Complications during recovery from laser surgery are usually more a result of the medications prescribed in combination with the surgery than anything else. Though your eyes may be sore for several days following the procedure, much of the necessary recovery will be due to the medications that go along with the treatment.
Macular degeneration medications likewise seek to prevent the growth of further blood vessels and prevent further leakage.
Macular Degeneration Surgery Complications
There are several surgical methods for treating macular degeneration, each with its own potential side effects. Though rare, possible macular degeneration surgery complications can include acceleration of several degenerative eye conditions, such as glaucoma (elevated pressure in the eye) and cataracts (clouding of the lens). In very rare instances, retinal detachment and severe loss of vision can occur as a result of surgery. As with any other surgical procedure, macular degeneration surgery complications can include bleeding and infection as well.
Find a Doctor
If you'd like to find out more about macular degeneration treatments, results and surgery complications, locate an eye care specialist in your area today who specializes in the treatment of macular degeneration.