While there currently isn’t a cure for AMD, researchers are developing new ways for those who have it to cope with and treat its symptoms.
Written by MacuHealth
Reviewed by Jim Stringham, Ph.D.
It can be terrifying and confusing when you find out you have age-related macular degeneration (AMD), but it doesn’t have to lead to a decline in your quality of life. Most people with AMD (roughly 90 percent) have the early, dry form of the disease, which often isn’t severe – so one can still read, drive their car and run errands just as they did before a doctor diagnosed the condition. The late-stage, so-called “wet macular degeneration” accounts for approximately 10 percent of cases but results in 90 percent legal blindness.
While there currently isn’t a cure for AMD, researchers are developing new ways for those who have it to cope with and treat its symptoms. For the late stage “wet” form of AMD, ocular injections can slow down vision loss. To prevent progression to the wet form, supplementation with crucial nutrients may offer hope. These supplements, which contain the three macular carotenoids (lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin), rebuild macular pigment, protecting the part of the retina responsible for central vision. Let’s look at some of the treatments for this ocular disease, as well as some changes you can make in your life to manage and prevent AMD.
There are some extensive and invasive treatments for the wet stage of macular degeneration, which occurs when new blood vessels grow underneath the macula, the part of the retina that facilitates central vision. Fluid or blood starts to leak into and obstruct your line of sight. Several drugs and therapies have been developed to block vessels or prevent new ones from forming in the eye. We’ve shared several of them below.
Doctors typically inject Avastin or other anti-angiogenic drugs into the eye of patients with the wet form of AMD to block the growth of blood vessels. They’re effective in helping people regain lost vision but must be repeated regularly to maintain vision levels.
Another method that a doctor may use is high-energy laser therapy. It works by shining a powerful light into the eye to destroy any irregularly growing blood vessels in the retina. There is even a two-step treatment that utilizes a drug the doctor injects into the bloodstream. When the laser is shined into the eye, the drug is activated, causing the blockage of abnormally growing blood vessels in the retina.
There are also eyeglasses and other devices that make images easier to see. Some doctors can even insert a device into the eye called an implantable miniature telescope, which will magnify and enhance the sight of those with advanced AMD.
The best way to prevent and manage AMD symptoms is to visit your eye doctor regularly, especially if you have a history of vision issues in your family. In addition to a typical eye exam, your optometrist will check for the disease by having you look at an Amsler grid, a series of straight horizontal and vertical lines. If any of the lines appear wavy, this is a sign that you may be developing AMD.
Another easy way to help prevent and manage the disease is to wear sunglasses and, if you’re a smoker, stop smoking. A change in diet that includes green vegetables is also recommended. Foods like kale and spinach are rich in antioxidants known as carotenoids. Macular carotenoids replenish macular pigment levels and increase protection by absorbing dangerous blue light and blocking free radicals.
Because modern farming conditions have led to a decrease in food’s nutrients, the average American consumes 1/20th of the recommended amount each day1 — not enough to improve visual performance and AMD progression. Thankfully, supplementation offers a viable way to replenish the macular carotenoids.
Studies show that supplements containing all three macular carotenoids boost macular pigment significantly. Consistent, daily use of high-quality supplements like MacuHealth is an excellent way to ensure that the body receives the proper amount of carotenoids needed to support visual health and performance.