The macula is a part of the retina in the back of the eye that ensures that our central vision is clear and sharp. Age-related macular degeneration (AMO) occurs when the arteries that nourish the retina harden. Deprived of nutrients, the retinal tissues begin to weaken and die, causing vision loss. Patients may experience anything from a blurry, gray or distorted area to a blind spot in the center of vision. Dry AMO treatment includes AREDSII vitamins, fish oil and sun protection. There is also new research with stem cells.
Wet AMO (neovascular/exudative) occurs when new blood vessels grow into the retina as the eye attempts to compensate for the blocked arteries. These new vessels are very fragile, and often leak blood and fluid between the layers of the retina. Not only does this leakage distort vision, but when the blood dries, scar tissue forms on the retina as well. This creates a dark spot in the patient’s vision.
Avastin TM, Eylea® and Lucentis® are medications that can reduce swelling in the macula, prevent further vision loss and even improve vision for some patients with age-related macular degeneration or AMO. They work by stopping the body from producing VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor), a chemical that makes abnormal blood vessels grow. These medications are given in a series of injections about 4-6 weeks apart. When stable the treatments are extended to longer intervals. lntraocular steroids and PDT (Photo dynamic Therapy) laser treatments can also be used for resistant cases of wet AMO. There are other medicines going through FDA trials currently. Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) is a non-invasive test that uses light waves to take pictures of the retina. This is used to analyze and guide the treatment of wet AMO.