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How is macular degeneration treated?

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There are no medical treatments for dry macular degeneration, but there are some for wet macular degeneration. Your eye specialist will discuss which is the best treatment for you.

Treatment with injections

eye injectionMedicines (such as Avastin and Lucentis) are injected into your eye to slow or stop the growth of new leaky blood vessels.

Before the injection your eye will be numbed with local anaesthetic eye drops. It is quick and painless, and is usually done in your eye specialist's (ophthalmologist's) rooms.

This does not cure macular degeneration, but stabilises your vision and helps you to keep the best vision for as long as possible. Some people find their vision improves.

Usually, you start with monthly injections for three months. To make sure you keep good vision for as long as possible, you need to have regular injections, and monitor your vision in between injections.

You might need to have the injections indefinitely. Your eye specialist will talk to you about how often you should have them.

If your vision changes suddenly, let your eye specialist know as soon as possible, rather than waiting until the next appointment.

Photodynamic therapy (PDT)

A light-sensitive medicine is injected into a vein, and makes its way to the blood vessels at the back of your eye. When a laser light shines on this medicine, it closes the abnormal blood vessels that cause wet macular degeneration.

You will need several treatments to stop the macular degeneration from progressing, and will need to be followed up to see if you need any more treatment. If you have this treatment your vision will continue to get worse for six months before it stabilises.

PDT is now only used to treat certain rare types of macular degeneration.

Laser photocoagulation

A laser seals the leaking blood vessels at the back of your eye. It is not painful. The laser can damage the area around the disease, so it is only used for treating macular degeneration in some places. Not many people have this, and those who do need to be followed up closely, as the macular degeneration comes back 50% of the time.

On the next page: Living with macular degeneration

Written by Canterbury optometrists. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. November 2014.

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