How Do Eye Doctors Treat AMD?
Currently, the only treatment for dry AMD, which in many people show no symptoms or loss of vision, is dietary vitamin and other supplements. A study has found that a certain combination of vitamins (vitamins C and E, lutein, zeaxanthin, and zinc), known as AREDS (Age Related Eye Disease Study) vitamins, can slow the progression of dry AMD in people with a moderate level of disease. However, these vitamins do not cure AMD. Only an eye doctor can tell if these will be of benefit.
The eye doctor may recommend a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year. The exam will help determine if the condition is worsening.
The treatment of wet AMD has changed rapidly over the past few years, and new research and treatments continue to be developed and tested. These mainly work by stopping the growth of new blood vessels and decreasing the leakage of these abnormal blood vessels.
Anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) drugs: The current standard treatment, these drugs block the development of new blood vessels and limit the leakage from the abnormal blood vessels in the eye. They are delivered through an injection into the eye, administered by an ophthalmologist, usually a retinal specialist. While some pressure will be felt during the injection, the eye is first numbed to minimize any discomfort. Several injections over time are needed in this treatment (frequency of injections varied based on the drug selected and the eye doctor’s judgment).
Photodynamic therapy (PDT): Only used occasionally, PDT uses a laser beam with a light-sensitive dye to destroy unhealthy new blood vessels in or under the retina. Multiple treatments may be needed, as directed by the eye doctor.
Laser photocoagulation: Only used occasionally, photocoagulation uses a stronger laser to destroy the new blood vessels. The treatment itself leaves permanent blind spots in a person’s vision. It helps to slow or stop the growth of new blood vessels that could damage vision even more and to preserve the vision that remains.
Healthy Lifestyle: Healthy habits can lead to healthy eyes - quit smoking, eat healthy foods, and stay active. Talk to a doctor before starting an exercise program.
Prevent Blindness strongly recommends that individuals consult with their eye doctor to determine the best treatment options for them.