Diagnosis of Macular Degeneration
As with many eye conditions, it is possible to detect early signs of Macular Degeneration during your regular eye examination. Therefore, scheduling regular eye exams is an excellent way to make an early diagnosis of Macular Degeneration.
It is also important you are familiar with symptoms that may indicate the early presence of Macular Degeneration. If you experience any distortion, twisting, or bending of objects in your vision, you should see your eye doctor immediately. Also, if you are 40 or older and have a family history of Macular Degeneration, you should have a thorough eye examination each year. Please be sure to tell the doctor if you have a family history of Macular Degeneration.
The Amsler Grid Test
The Amsler Grid Test helps identify central vision distortion, and may be a subtle indication of swelling of the Macula. It is also very useful in detecting small vision changes that result from minimal fluid accumulation under your Macula. Your doctor may ask you to take an Amsler Grid Test home to check for changes in your vision. If this is necessary, we will supply you with an Amsler Grid Test and detailed instructions on how to use it.
If we detect any signs of Macular Degeneration or feel you are at risk for Macular Degeneration, we may schedule you for additional testing.
Treatment of Macular Degeneration
We have many treatment options that may help slow or halt vision loss due to Macular Degeneration. However, patients must understand that once the Macula has been damaged, there is no treatment that can currently reverse the damage (Diagnosis and Treatment of Macular Degeneration).
Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Inhibitors (VEGF)
Avastin, Macugen and Lucentis Injections
Advanced research of new blood vessel growth has led to considerable information related to the treatment of Wet Macular Degeneration. Researchers discovered that a specific protein, “Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor” (VEGF), causes growth of blood vessels to occur in the eye. However, certain drugs can be injected into the eye in order to slow or stop that growth. Two FDA approved drugs, Macugen and Lucentis, specifically treat Wet Macular Degeneration.
A third drug, Avastin, has been FDA approved for the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer. However, once FDA approved, physicians can use it “off-label” for other purposes. Many Ophthalmologists now use AvastinTM off-label to treat Age Related Macular Degeneration and other eye conditions that cause neovascularization.
Each of these drugs works by inhibiting the VEGF protein, so there is little to no stimulus to grow new blood vessels. Avastin, Macugen and Lucentis injections are intravitreal injections, injected directly into the Vitreous every four to six weeks. Clinical studies found that 90% of patients who had new blood vessel formation monthly maintained their vision with anti-VEGF Injections (http://www.scienceofamd.org/treat/).
Age Related Macular Degeneration & Diet
Nutrition may play a role in the likelihood of developing Macular Degeneration. Studies indicate that people who have a fruit and vegetable rich diet have a considerably lower incidence of Macular Degeneration. It is not certain whether taking dietary supplements can prevent progression in patients with existing macular disease. However, it is clear that certain dietary supplements can reduce your risk of Macular Degeneration.
The Age Related Eye Disease Study (https://nei.nih.gov/amd), which was sponsored by the National Eye Institute, showed that taking high levels of antioxidants and Zinc could reduce the risk of developing Age Related Macular Degeneration by about 25%. This is not a cure, but a way for at risk patients to prevent vision loss.
BEFORE patients begin taking any vitamin or antioxidant supplements, you should fully discuss the risks and benefits with our doctors. In consultation with your family physician or Internist, will determine whether this is safe and effective for you to try.
To learn more about Macular Degeneration at The Eye Center, click the links below:
If you, a family member or friend, feel that you may be at risk for Macular Degeneration, please schedule an appointment at The Eye Center at 303-777-5455.