Macular Degeneration Treatment and Therapy

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 11,897
    Dr. Stephen Rose discusses the various treatments and therapies that are currently available for macular degeneration (AMD).

    Stephen Rose: Hi! I'm Dr. Steve Rose from the Foundation Fighting Blindness and I am here to talk about age-related macular degeneration or AMD. Now, I'll talk about the various treatments that are available for age-related macular degeneration.

    Unfortunately, there is no cure for AMD at this time, but thanks to investments and research, more and better treatments for AMD are emerging everyday. Before I get into specific options that are available, I want to emphasize that the treatments I'm discussing on this video are FDA Approved specifically for age-related macular degeneration. You may come across other proposed treatments in your search for answers on this disease.

    While some of these treatment options may sound promising, it's extremely important that you discuss them with your doctor before undergoing any form of treatment for AMD. Something that seems harmless enough to you like a nutritional vitamin or supplement can have harmful side effects on your vision or other parts of your body or they can negatively interact with other medicines that you are taking. For this reason it's crucial that you discuss all treatments or therapies with a doctor who knows your medical history.

    Most current AMD treatments are geared towards slowing the progression of vision loss from the disease and minimizing the risk of developing more advanced forms of the disease.

    The first treatment, I'll discuss is an antioxidant formulation called AREDS that has proven to slow the progression of AMD. The study for which it was named was conducted by the National Eye Institute.

    Peter Campochiaro: It was found that patients with the intermediate form of AMD who took this combination of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Beta Carotene, Copper and Zinc had a reduced risk of progressing onto the more advanced stages of AMD.

    Stephen Rose: The AREDS formulation contains specific amounts and forms of these antioxidants and nutrients. So do not try to substitute multivitamins or dietary nutrients for the AREDS formulation. Also keep in mind that too much of any vitamin or mineral may affect the body's ability to absorb important nutrients. So follow your doctor's advice about dosage.

    In addition to AREDS, there are pharmaceuticals available to reduce the vision loss from Wet AMD. Vision loss from Wet AMD is caused by abnormal leaky blood vessel growth under the retina. These drugs work by restricting the growth of these blood vessels.

    Peter Campochiaro: Injecting these antibodies into the eye can result in dramatic improvements in vision. In fact, this is the first treatment that's been able to improve vision once patients get the wet form of AMD.

    Stephen Rose: While this sounds painful, most patients say they feel very little or even nothing at all when they receive their injections.

    Peter Campochiaro: I think for most patients, the psychological barrier to the injections is much greater than any real physical discomfort that they have. Stephen Rose: Researches continue to work on different ways to administer the drug including eye drops and even through a small device that is implanted into the eye to provide sustain delivery of the drug.

    A third treatment option for Wet AMD called Photodynamic therapy uses a light activated drug to keep the disease from advancing into a more advanced stage. The doctor injects the drug into the patients arm and then activates the drug as it passes through the retinal blood vessels by shining a low energy laser beam into the eye. The resulting chemical reaction actually destroys abnormal blood vessels.

    Photodynamic therapy is virtually painless. Some doctors also incorporate photodynamic therapy with the drug treatment regimen for optimal effect. As you may have noticed, there are more treatments currently available for the wet form of the disease than for the dry form and while these treatments can be very effective in minimizing vision loss to AMD, they are not cures.

    If you'd like to learn more, visit FightBlindness.

    org and checkout our other videos on AMD, including advancements in research.