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Ask an Expert about Macular Degeneration

Latest Questions and Answers
I have dry macular degeneration, and it was first spotted by my optometrist, who dilated my iris and photographed the retina at 6 month intervals. Should I also be seeing an eye physician who specializes in macular degeneration? I am taking the AREDS vitamins, but nothing more. It doesn't seem as though there is much more that a specialist can do at this point, and the cost would certainly go up for me. Thank you for your input. [ 04/13/11 ]

The only treatment currently available for the dry subtype of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is the AREDS vitamin supplement. If you feel that you would have greater peace of mind with a second opinion, you may benefit from a one-time evaluation by a retinal specialist. They may also be able to direct you to literature so that you can learn more about your disease, and inform you of any clinical trials that you are eligible to participate in.

During the last year, my eyes have gone from bad to worse. I had cataract surgery in October of 2010, and now my vision is worse than it was then. I was told there was nothing that could be done and I would just have to live with it. I sought a second opinion and was given a prescription for glasses. My issue is not that I can't see, but that I can't see WELL! I live on Long Island in New York, and would like to know what eye doctor group can best help me. I need someone who I can trust and will do what’s right for me. I am willing to travel into New York City. Also, I wanted to mention that I am not receiving treatment for my glaucoma. Thank you for your help. [ 04/12/11 ]

The reason for your decreased vision could be from many causes, but without further details I cannot elaborate. Glaucoma can cause central visual loss, however this typically occurs only with advanced glaucoma. Since I do not have information about your primary eye problem, I cannot make a recommendation for the appropriate specialist in New York. It might be most expeditious to contact a previous eye care provider and ask who they would recommend for the specific problem you are having. Otherwise, a major academic medical center would be a reasonable place to contact as well.

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.

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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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