Can treatments reverse macular degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration, also known as macular degeneration, is a condition that affects the eye. While it is not reversible, some treatments can slow its progression.
Macular degeneration involves the deterioration of the macula, part of the retina at the back of the eye.
There are two different types of macular degeneration: wet and dry. Both reduce a person’s vision by causing objects and shapes to look blurry and out of focus. Some people also report seeing blank spots and duller colors than before.
Dry macular degeneration involves the cells of the macula becoming thin and eventually breaking down.
Wet macular degeneration is when atypical blood vessels begin to grow in the back of the eye. Over time, these blood vessels break and leak fluid into the macula.
Read on to learn about the causes and risk factors of age-related macular degeneration, prevention tips, when to contact a doctor, and more.
Is it reversible?
At present, there is no cure for macular degeneration.
However, there are a few treatments for the condition. They cannot reverse macular degeneration, but they can prevent it from worsening.
Without treatment, people with macular degeneration may experience full vision loss, which can severely affect their quality of life and day-to-day activities.
It is important to meet with an ophthalmologist if a person notices a decline in their vision.
No treatments can reverse macular degeneration, but some can help prevent the condition from worsening.
The treatment for this condition varies according to the stage and type. However, there is currently no method to help with early-stage macular degeneration. In these early stages, people will have to work with their eye doctor to track the progression of the disease.
A doctor may prescribe special dietary supplements to someone with intermediate macular degeneration to prevent it from worsening.
There are also no current treatments for late-stage dry macular degeneration. However, experts are currently researching potential options.
Some treatments for wet macular degeneration include anti-vascular endothelial growth factor drugs, which a doctor injects into the eye. Additionally, healthcare professionals may recommend photodynamic therapy, a combination of injections and laser treatment.
There is little information on natural options that can effectively manage macular degeneration.
However, the National Eye Institute sponsored two large-scale studies — Age-related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) and AREDS2 — that aimed to understand the effects of nutritional supplements on macular degeneration.
In the AREDS study, researchers gave participants:
500 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C
400 international units (IU) of vitamin E
15 mg of beta carotene
2 mg of copper
80 mg of zinc
The researchers concluded that daily supplementation decreased the 5-year risk of macular degeneration of the disease from intermediate to advanced stages by 25%. It also decreased the risk of vision loss by 19%.
In the AREDS2 study, the scientists slightly changed the supplemental formula. They removed beta carotene and replaced it with two different carotenoids: lutein and zeaxanthin. The team gave the participants:
500 mg of vitamin C
400 IU of vitamin E
10 mg of lutein
2 mg of zeaxanthin
2 mg of copper
80mg of zinc
There were no differences in results between the AREDS and AREDS2 studies.
Causes and risk factors
It is unclear what causes macular degeneration.
However, the following factors may increase a person’s risk of developing this condition:
hypertension, or high blood pressure
Being overweight or having excess weight, having high cholesterol, and being female may also increase one’s risk, but researchers do not agree on these factors as contributors to macular degeneration.
Because experts do not fully understand macular degeneration, there are few preventive strategies. The best option would be to make healthier decisions and maintain a healthy lifestyle. This includes:
eating fruits and vegetables
maintaining a moderate weight
Because hypertension is a risk factor for this condition, people with high blood pressure should monitor their sodium intake to keep both their heart and eyes healthy.
Scheduling regular eye exams also helps with early diagnosis and treatment of this condition, which is important for preventing its progression.
People should make an appointment with their ophthalmologist immediately if they notice a change in vision.
When to contact a doctor
If a person notices a decline in their vision, they should contact an ophthalmologist. While there is no cure for macular degeneration, certain treatments can help slow its progression.
The sooner the diagnosis, the quicker a doctor can recommend treatment that helps prevent vision from worsening.
Age-related macular degeneration is a condition that affects a person’s vision. It develops as people age.
Though there is no cure for macular degeneration, limited treatment options may help prevent its progression.
Because of this, it is important to schedule regular eye exams.
A person should contact an ophthalmologist if they experience vision impairment or have concerns about their risk of developing macular degeneration.