What Treatments are Available?
Dry MD – There are currently no treatments to reverse the effects of dry MD; however, you can discuss supplements, diet and your lifestyle with your healthcare professional. It is important to be aware the dry type may turn into the wet type so it is so important to have an Amsler grid, check it regularly, and report any changes to your optometrist/ophthalmologist immediately.
Treatments for dry MD are being developed and it is hoped that treatment and better prevention strategies will be available within a few years.
Wet MD – The treatment options available for people with wet MD do not cure MD, they aim to keep as much vision for as long possible. It is very important that you have an understanding about the stage and type of your MD, as treatment options are dependant on this. With the guidance of your eye care professional, treatment options may be explored.
A large study in the USA, the AREDS study, showed that people with at least moderate MD could reduce their risk of MD becoming worse by supplementing their diet with zinc and antioxidants.
If you already have definite signs of MD, then based on the AREDS research, the supplements used in the AREDS study could significantly reduce the risk of late stage MD developing, and delay vision loss.
There is also mounting evidence that lutein and zeaxanthin (naturally occurring in foods) could also be helpful. You can obtain these from natural dietary sources like spinach, or by taking a commercially available supplement.
Please consult with your doctor regarding supplements or when making significant changes to your diet.
In WET MD, new blood vessels form underneath the retina. The development of these vessels is stimulated by VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor). Anti-VEGF drugs, such as Avastin (bevacizumab) and Lucentis (ranibizumab), are thought to work by inhibiting VEGF, switching off the signals for the formation of new (leaky) blood vessels. In this way, these drugs halt the progression of WET MD and in some cases cause the regression of abnormal blood vessels that have already formed. Up to 40% of patients experience an improvement in vision after treatment with these drugs, rather than just prevention of further deterioration.
For a more thorough explanation of MD, see the Macular Degeneration Foundation website: www.mdfoundation.com.au