How is age-related macular degeneration managed or treated?
AMD isn’t curable. Starting treatments early can slow disease progression and reduce the severity of symptoms. Even with successful treatments, AMD symptoms often return. Depending on the disease type, treatments include:
- Nutritional supplements: The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) found that a combination of vitamins and minerals may slow the progression of dry AMD. AREDS supplements include vitamin C, vitamin E, lutein, zinc, copper, zeaxanthin and beta carotene. (Smokers shouldn’t take beta carotene because it raises the risk of lung cancer.)
- Antivascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF): This treatment for wet AMD blocks the production of VEGF, a protein that produces new blood vessels. Your eye healthcare provider injects anti-VEGF into a numbed eye. The drug slows or stops blood vessel development. This treatment sometimes improves vision.
- Photodynamic therapy (PDT): During photodynamic therapy, your eye healthcare provider uses a combination of an injectable light-sensitive drug and a laser to destroy extra blood vessels in the eye. Your provider may combine PDT with anti-VEGF.
What are age-related macular degeneration treatment side effects or risks?
Treatments for wet AMD carry some risk of complications including:
- Eye infection.
- Retinal detachment.
- Structural eye damage.
- Faster onset of cataracts.
- Severe vision loss.
What are the complications of age-related macular degeneration?
Losing your central vision can make it challenging to do certain tasks. Depending on the extent of vision impairment, you may not be able to read well, recognize faces, drive, cook or do home repairs. If AMD is severe, you may be considered legally blind. These changes can lead to depression and anxiety. Some people with AMD experience Charles Bonnet syndrome, a condition that causes visual hallucinations.