Till now there is no effective cure for age-related macular degeneration. This is mainly because little is known about the cause of age-related macular degeneration. Several new treatments are in the clinical stage and most of the existing treatments only delay the progress of the disease.
Dry AMD: There is no effective cure for dry AMD but if detected at the initial or intermediate stage further advancement of the disease can be delayed. Vitamins are prescribed for delaying the advancement of the disease from the intermediate stage to advanced stage. Several treatments are in the experimental stage.
The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) of National Eye Institute in 2001 released a report after conducting a study on 5,000 individuals suffering from AMD. The report says that a specific high-dose formulation of antioxidants and zinc can considerably reduce the advancement of dry AMD from intermediate to advanced stage. The supplements will not restore vision or cure AMD but will effectively check its progress. It is wise to take the vitamin after consulting an ophthalmologist.
Wet AMD: Photodynamic therapy, laser treatment, and injections are the major treatments for wet AMD. Photo dynamic therapy (PDT) is highly effective, if Wet AMD is detected early. Visudyne, a light sensitive dye, is injected into the body. This dye sticks to the lining of the abnormal blood vessels in the retina. The dye is then activated with light and this destroys the abnormal blood vessels. The treatment involves no pain and is usually performed at the doctor’s officer or eye clinic.
The advantage of this treatment is that it does not destroy healthy tissue. Lower back pain is a side effect associated with this treatment. After the treatment, the skin and the eyes should not be exposed to light for five days. This treatment doest not bring back the lost vision or stops vision loss. It only slows the rate of progress of wet AMD. The effect of photodynamic is temporary and should be repeated.
Laser treatment, also known as laser photocoagulation, is used to seal the leaking of the abnormal blood vessels and to stop their further growth. This treatment is found to be effective in 15% of the patients. In this treatment high energy light is passed on to the abnormal blood vessels. This treatment is usually performed at an eye clinic or at the doctor’s office.
Side effects include loss of some vision and damage to healthy tissue. Laser photocoagulation treatment does not provide a complete cure and the blood vessels can grow again in a later stage.
Injections into the eye are a new form of treatment. The drug used is Macugen, which was approved in the United States in December 2004. The drug hampers the growth of abnormal blood vessels. The injection need to be administered every six weeks. Like other treatments, macugen only slows the progress of age-related macular degeneration.
Several new treatments are in the experimental stage and some of them have got approval. Several angiostatic therapies and combination therapies are in clinical trial and it is expected that a breakthrough in the treatment of AMD will be achieved soon. Individuals can take part in these clinical trials after going through the necessary formalities.