Aging & Health A to Z
Care & Treatment
Dry Macular Degeneration
It’s important to remember that people with dry ARMD and those with large deposits of drusen run a higher risk of developing wet ARMD. The deposits of drusen don’t cause wet macular degeneration (the leaky, abnormal blood vessels are the culprit) but people with significant deposits are more likely to develop wet ARMD than those with fewer deposits.
If you have dry ARMD and significant deposits of drusen, research suggests that high doses of certain multivitamins, including beta-carotene, may lower your risk of developing wet macular degeneration. You should ask your healthcare provider if these high-dose multivitamins are right for you. Smokers and people at high risk of developing osteoporosis (or “thinning bones”) should not take them because high doses of beta carotene have been linked to increased risks of both lung cancer and osteoporosis. The pills contain 25,000 IU of beta-carotene, 400 IU of vitamin E, 500 mg of vitamin C, and 80 mg of zinc. Some research suggests that eating “fatty” fish, such as salmon and tuna, or taking fish oil, may also help.
Wet Macular Degeneration
There are different approaches to treating wet macular degeneration. A common approach uses medications called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitors. These drugs help slow the spread of abnormal, leaking blood vessels and have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of vision loss. These medications are injected into the affected eye or eyes. Repeated treatments are usually needed. The treatments are usually done in an outpatient setting—such as the doctor’s office or a hospital-based office—so you don’t have to be admitted to the hospital to get them.
Other treatments include thermal laser therapy and photodynamic therapy. These are also done in outpatient settings. Laser therapy uses a laser (a highly focused beam of light) to remove the abnormal blood vessels that are damaging the macula. Photodynamic therapy uses a light-activated drug and a low-power laser to target the leaky blood vessels.
Last Updated: March 2012
Posted: March 2012