Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD or AMD) is the leading cause of blindness or vision loss among people 60 and older in the U.S. The disease affects the macula, a portion of the retina responsible for sharp central vision, causing a blind spot in the center of vision. Dry macular degeneration is the most common form. Wet AMD is more serious and often develops from the dry form.
Although at this time there is no known cure for dry macular degeneration, dietary supplements and other methods can help slow deterioration. Various treatments may help slow the progress of the wet form of the disease.
Try vitamin supplements. Certain nutrients, including zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamins A, C, and E can help lower one’s risk for developing AMD and can even slow down the effects of dry macular degeneration. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) conducted by the National Eye Institute in 2001 indicated that high levels of zinc and antioxidants can help prevent macular degeneration and other serious eye diseases. Antioxidant vitamins include B, C and E and beta carotene.
Ask your doctor if it is advisable to take one of the commercial AREDS formulations, available in pharmacies and supermarkets such as Bausch & Lomb Ocuvite PreserVision or Alcon I-Caps. The AREDS formula includes 500 mg of Vitamin C, 400 IU s of Vitamin E, 15 mg of beta-carotene, 80 mg of zinc and 2 mg of copper. Eye health supplements also may include lutein, zeaxathin and omega-3 fatty acids.
Slow the progress of AMD: Eat plenty of fish or take an omega-3 fish oil supplement. Stop smoking. Eat green, leafy vegetables several times and week and eat fruit and nuts daily. Reduce refined carbohydrates in your diet. Exercise regularly and keep your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol level under control. Wear sunglasses outdoors that protect against ultraviolet and HEV (blue) light.
Consult your doctor about Anti-VEGF medicines that can be used to treat wet ARMD. These medicines are injected directly into the eye. The medicines block a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor that causes the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the eye. Two of these drugs are Macugen and Lucentis.
Other wet AMD treatments include photodymanic therapy, which uses a light sensitive dye to produce blood clots that stop abnormal blood vessels from growing. The effectiveness of PDT is still under study.
Another possible treatment for wet AMD is laser therapy to remove deposits in the eye called drusen, but laser therapy can cause permanent loss of central vision.
Treatments for wet AMD can be costly and often carry risks. Be sure you understand the limits of these treatments as well as risks, benefits and side effects before you begin.