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Ask an Expert about Macular Degeneration

Latest Questions and Answers
I am in a quandary and am I hoping that you can provide some clarification. I have had wet macular degeneration in both eyes for the past 5 years, and have responded well to the eye injections. A few weeks ago, a friend called the organization that makes PreserVision and was told that since she has a history of smoking that she should be taking the formulation with lutein and not the one with vitamin A. Can you please clarify this for me? [ 04/11/11 ]

The standard AREDS formulation of vitamins found in PreserVision contains a type of vitamin A derivative called beta carotene. Beta carotene may result in increased rates of lung cancer in smokers. Lutein is thought give similar benefit to smokers with dry age-related macular degeneration, but does not result in increased risk of lung cancer.


Are there doctors performing artificial retinal surgery? Is there someone that I can contact about this treatment? [ 04/07/11 ]

The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science has funded the “Artificial Retina Project.” To find out more information about the project, participating centers/locations and how to possibly enroll in a clinical trial, please visit: http://artificialretina.energy.gov/about.shtml.


I would like to know if Tozal can help stabilize the vision in my 85-year-old aunt. [ 04/01/11 ]

The answer depends greatly on what is causing the visual change in your aunt. Assuming your aunt has the dry form of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), Tozal may have benefit. The data for Tozal is very limited, however, because the study was performed in a small number of patients for a short duration of time. The study showed that taking Tozal had a borderline effect in very slightly improving vision. The average amount of visual gain would not be noticeable by many patients. The best evidence for using nutritional supplements was generated by the large AREDS study. This study is being followed by the AREDS 2 study, which is still ongoing. The AREDS 2 supplement has some similarity to the Tozal supplement. Ask your aunt's ophthalmologist if she is a candidate for an AREDS supplement, as this supplement has been shown to definitely decrease the progression of certain types of ARMD. 


I have had macular edema due to a vein occlusion in my left eye since 2009, and have received several intraocular injections of Lucentis and Avastin without improvement. Six months ago, I received an intraocular injection of ophthalmic corticoid, which reduced the inflammation somewhat, but did not have an impact on my vision. I am 74 years old, and do not have glaucoma or diabetes. What else can I do for this macular edema associated with vein occlusion? [ 03/31/11 ]

Swelling in the eye after vein occlusion can be treated with several methods, though it seems that you have had many of them already. Certain types of vein occlusion can be treated with laser. The mainstay of treatment of swelling due to vein occlusion is currently Avastin or Lucentis injection. In cases of resistant swelling, some advocate use of steroid injections. If these treatments are not effective, new therapies are being developed, and may be able to improve your vision in the future.


Is it safe for someone with early-stage dry macular degeneration to take a low dose of Cialis? I took this medication a few years ago prior to being diagnosed with this eye disease and had no resulting visual issues. I am 63 years old and in good physical condition. Thanks in advance for your help. [ 03/30/11 ]

More research on this topic is available for Viagra, since it is a drug that has been in use for a longer period of time. Viagra has not been shown to alter blood flow to the blood vessel layer underneath the retina, nor cause any short term effects in patients with early-stage dry age-related macular degeneration. Though not extensively proven, it would be reasonable to expect the same safety of Cialis. Cialis and Viagra may be associated with another condition that leads to lack of blood flow to the optic nerve causing visual loss. This association has not been definitely proven and is still under investigation.


Is there a surgery for dry macular degeneration that can prevent the progression to the wet form of the disease? [ 03/29/11 ]

No surgery exists to prevent the conversion of dry age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) to the wet subtype. However, smoking cessation and nutritional supplementation can definitely slow the conversion. Ask your retina specialist if you are a candidate for ARMD nutritional supplements. It is important to note that these supplements are only beneficial for a subgroup of patients with dry ARMD.


I am 51 years old and was recently diagnosed with macular degeneration. Is there any way to predict how quickly the disease will progress, and is there anything that I can do other than take PreserVision? Is there a difference between macular degeneration and age-related macular degeneration? I feel as though I should be doing something! Any advice would be appreciated. [ 03/28/11 ]

You are correct in thinking that certain factors can slow the progression of the dry subtype of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) in certain patients. PreserVision has been shown in a large clinical trial to definitively slow the progression of disease in certain patients with dry ARMD. Smoking cessation has also been shown to slow progression. Other behavioral changes like a healthy diet, exercise, and omega-3 fatty acid supplementation may be beneficial. ARMD is a subtype of macular degeneration, and frequently referred to as “macular degeneration,” though this general term includes many other diseases.

Read more about risk factors and prevention of age-related macular degeneration.


My sister, who is 71 years old, has macular degeneration and is receiving Avastin injections. In February, she was awakened by a pain behind her eyes. When she opened her eyes, a watery liquid "poured out." What would cause this to happen? [ 03/27/11 ]

Pain after Avastin injection is not uncommon. The eye can respond to a noxious stimulus, such as recent injection, antiseptic drops, or antibiotics by secreting tears and mucous as a self protective mechanism. This may have been one possible cause. Please understand that fluid associated with redness, pain, or decreased vision is a reason to contact your doctor.


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Disclaimer: The information provided here is a public service of the BrightFocus Foundation and should not in any way substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional; it is not intended to constitute medical advice. Please consult your physician for personalized medical advice. BrightFocus Foundation does not endorse any medical product or therapy. All medications and supplements should only be taken under medical supervision. Also, although we make every effort to keep the medical information on our website updated, we cannot guarantee that the posted information reflects the most up-to-date research.

Some of the content in this section is adapted from other sources, which are clearly identified within each individual item of information.

Last Review: 04/29/13


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