As we’ve been discussing the last couple of weeks, here on the Gold Coast at Envision Optical we see many patients who have signs of macular degeneration changes. The image here shows what the vision of a person with significant macular degeneration is like. I’ve talked about the basics of the condition, and last week outlined symptoms and how we diagnose the disease. Today I’ll briefly outline treatment options.
Until approximately the last 15 or so years, there were minimal treatment options available to prevent the inexorable vision loss that occurs in macular degeneration. Since then there have been several developments that are particularly effective in at last halting or slowing down the progression of the disease. It is not possible currently to regain lost tissue that has atrophied and been permanently damaged, however severe vision loss is more likely to be avoided with the modern treatments. The treatment options vary between the two main forms of the disease. If the presence of WET AMD is detected we refer to a retinal specialist who performs further investigations to determine the location of the abnormal blood vessels that will cause the bleeding and swelling. The anti-VEGF drugs now used are injected to shrink and close up these abnormal blood vessels and prevent permanent scarring. This is an ongoing process though, so regular repeat injections are required on an ongoing basis.
For dry AMD, no treatment currently exists, however several preventative measures are useful. Quitting smoking and wearing sunglasses whenever outdoors, as well as dietary changes are all proven beneficial actions. Regular 6 monthly follow up visits will be most commonly recommended and will require ongoing photography and OCT scans of the macula to monitor for any progression. The Amsler grid is provided to patients to use every day to monitor central vision for any distortion.
Next week I will explain some of the nutritional aspects to preventing and controlling the disease.