We are very fortunate to have possible treatment options that may help to slow or even halt the progression of vision loss. However, patients must understand that once the macula has been damaged, there is no treatment that currently can consistently reverse that damage and the associated loss of vision. Early diagnosis and treatment to prevent or halt vision loss must be the approach that we take. Currently there are some treatment options available for certain types of macular degeneration that include anti-Vascular Endothelial Growth factor (VEGF) injections such as Lucentis® and Eylea® for Wet Macular Degeneration and the prescription of diet vitamin supplements.
Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Inhibitors (VEGF)
Lucentis® & Eylea® Retina Injections
As a result of advanced cancer research in the area of “angiogenesis” or new blood vessel growth, considerable information has been gathered and applied to the treatment of Wet Macular Degeneration. Researchers discovered that a specific protein called “Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor” (VEGF) causes the growth of new blood vessels or “neovascularization” to occur in the eye. From this work, drugs that can be injected into the eye in order to slow or stop the growth of new blood vessels have been developed. Lucentis® and Eylea® have been developed and FDA approved with specific indications to treat Wet Macular Degeneration. Each of these drugs works by inhibiting Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) so that there is little or no stimulus to grow new blood vessels in the Retina.
Lucentis® and Eylea® Injections are intravitreal injections – that means an injection that is placed directly into the Vitreous of the eye. Generally they need to be repeated every four to eight weeks. We will tailor a treatment regimen in order to provide the greatest efficacy yet one that provides the least burden to the patient. Clinical studies of these anti-VEGF Injections indicate that when given to patients who have evidence of new blood vessel formation monthly, over 90% of patients will maintain their vision and approximately 40% will have their vision improve.
Age Related Macular Degeneration & Diet
It is believed that nutrition may play a role in the likelihood of developing macular degeneration. Studies indicated that people who have a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables-particularly green leafy vegetables-have a considerably lower incidence of Macular Degeneration. The Age Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), 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 we need to consider this information as a possible way to help patients who are at risk for Age Related Macular Degeneration prevent vision loss.
NOTE: A VERY SPECIFIC FORMULATION WAS USED IN THIS STUDY
Before patients begin taking any course of vitamin or antioxidant supplements, they should fully discuss the risks and benefits with our eye doctors, who in consultation with your family physician or Internist, will determine whether this is safe and effective for you to try.
Prevention of Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Patients can also help to decrease their risk of developing age related macular degeneration (AMD) by not smoking, moderating alcohol consumption, eating a heart-healthy diet rich in fish, fruit and green leafy vegetables, avoiding foods with trans fats, exercising and controlling blood pressure and weight. With early detection and diagnosis of macular degeneration it may be possible to have a number of treatment options available to help preserve your vision.