Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in those over 60 years of age in the United States and can make favorite activities such as reading and daily activities like driving impossible. Treating age-related macular degeneration is complicated by the fact that it is often accompanied by a host of other age-related illnesses and health problems. Unfortunately, AMD is a progressive disease, and currently only a small portion of patients find benefit from available therapies.
REGULAR EYE EXAMS
The first step in combating age-related macular degeneration is a regular eye exam. The American Academy of Ophthalmology suggests an eye exam with dilation every two years between the ages of 40 and 60, and annually for anyone over the age of 60.
During your eye examination, your doctor at Silverstein Eye Centers will discuss your health history, including family history and medications, and any vision problems you may be experiencing. If you are diagnosed with AMD, your doctor will make a treatment plan recommendation, discuss the pros and cons of treatment options, and will offer suggestions for how to continue living your normal lifestyle for as long as possible.
VASCULAR ENDOTHELIAL GROWTH FACTOR
Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) treatment works by stimulating growth of new blood vessels, which deliver oxygen to damaged tissues. This is still a fairly new therapy, but has shown promise in treating AMD.
There is some evidence that certain antioxidant supplements and zinc may help slow the progression of AMD. However, you should never add supplements of any kind to your diet or medication routine without consulting your doctor in order to be sure your supplements, medications, and health problems don’t contraindicate one another. During your appointment at Silverstein Eye Centers, be sure you share a complete list of all medications, supplements, and health problems with your doctor.
Photodynamic therapy uses cold laser technology in combination with medications to seal off leaking blood vessels in the eye. However, patients must take care to avoid direct sun exposure for several days afterwards as the medications involved cause the skin to become hypersensitive to sunlight.
Other laser therapies beyond photodynamic therapy may also be used in treating AMD. Because AMD is a progressive disease, multiple treatments may be necessary to slow the progression of the disease.
Regardless of the treatment plan devised for you by your Silverstein Eye Centers doctor, please understand that AMD is a progressive disease that can be treated, but not cured. Unfortunately, many patients don’t recognized the early warning signs of AMD and are seen too late for some treatments to be considered. It is imperative to have regular screenings in order to catch AMD early and to have the best possible chances for successful treatment.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact Silverstein Eye Centers at 816-358-3600.