Despite extensive research for decades, the exact cause of macular degeneration remains unknown. This is unfortunate because due to the increased life expectancy in our country, the prevalence of macular degeneration is increasing. It is estimated that macular degeneration will affect nearly 3 million people in the United States by 2020.
The majority of patients with macular degeneration (roughly 90%) experience dry macular degeneration (dry ARMD or age-related macular degeneration). The only known treatment for this presently is supplementation with vitamins such as Ocuvite Preservision AREDS 2. This treatment does NOT reverse macular degeneration, but is recommended for those with moderate to severe macular degeneration as statistically it may decrease visual loss and/or progression to “wet” macular degeneration. This information was gleaned through the long-term study known as the Age-Related Eye Disease Study.
Those individuals with “wet” ARMD typically began with the dry type of macular degeneration and experienced a growth of new blood vessels (choroidal neovascularization) behind and then into the deep portion of the retina. This often induces a sudden decrease in central vision or a sudden distortion of central vision in the affected eye. We ask that our patients with wet macular degeneration continue their treatment with Ocuvite, but they require intravitreal injections of medication to induce regression of the abnormal growth of blood vessels in the retina. This is performed in the office with topical anesthesia and is well tolerated. Patients are usually examined and tested each month, often with repeat injections each month until the blood vessels have disappeared. More time between visits and testing (and injections) is attempted, and is customized based upon the eye’s response to treatment. For some patients, the injections may need to be continued for many months.
Clinical fundus photo, fluorescein angiogram and OCT of wet macular degeneration
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