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Ask an Expert about Macular Degeneration

Latest Questions and Answers
I have been told that I have a swelling of the macula due to a medication that I take for cancer. I am in remission, but I was told that I cannot be treated for the macular problem until 2 years after I have completed cancer treatment. Can you comment on this? [ 05/02/11 ]

Swelling of the macula can occur due to a variety of drugs and other medical conditions. General therapies for macular swelling include topical drops, laser therapy, eye injections, and systemic medications. Without knowing your specific situation (such as the specific medication that is causing the swelling), I cannot comment further on management. However, several macula swelling therapies exist that are localized treatments to the eye, so you may benefit from a second opinion to determine if you are a candidate for any of those therapies.


I suffer from an imperfection of the central part of my vision, which was diagnosed in 2000. Are there any surgical treatments that can help to maintain my vision? Please let me know what I can do, and also what I should avoid so that I can retain my vision. [ 04/30/11 ]

Imperfection in the central part of vision can be caused by a variety of reasons ranging from treatable conditions such as age-related macular degeneration to currently untreatable conditions as macular ischemia. Without knowing the exact reason for the imperfection in your central vision, I cannot advise you in regards to prognosis, management, or surgical treatments.


I am experiencing an allergic reaction to the antibiotic drops that were used after Avastin injections. Are there other drops that will not cause this reaction? [ 04/29/11 ]

There are a variety of antibiotic drops that can be used after injection of Avastin. You may also be responding to the mechanical irritation of the eyelid speculum, or the antiseptic used to clean the eye prior to injection as well. Please describe your symptoms to your retinal specialist and he or she can help tailor your therapy to avoid the allergic symptoms after injection.


I developed dry macular degeneration around 20 years ago, and have been taking lutein, zeaxanthin, billberry, zinc, selenium, vitamin E, fish oil, vitamin A, as well as eating fruits and vegetables, but the disease just keeps getting a little worse every year. I am 87 years old, and I don't drive at night anymore; however, I can still read, for which I am very thankful. During the last 20 years, I have not heard about any new treatments for this disease. Am I missing something? I truly want to keep my sight as long as I live. If there is something that I am not doing, please let me know. [ 04/28/11 ]

You are to be commended for taking a proactive approach to your dry age-related macular degeneration (ARMD). Your healthy diet will give you a variety of health benefits. Though you are correct in stating that there are no FDA approved therapies for patients with dry ARMD (other than the AREDS vitamins); however, this form of the disease is being heavily researched at the present time. Currently, different research groups are performing over 60 clinical trials for dry ARMD. When you see your eye specialist for your usual exams, he or she will be able to provide you with updates concerning any newly approved therapies. Please also visit the “Treatment” section of our website to read about common and experimental therapies for macular degeneration.


I have had macular degeneration for over 5 years, and I am 84 years old. I also have dry eyes and use Restasis eye drop 3 or 4 times each day with my doctor’s approval. I rub my eyes a lot and it also burns somewhat when I use the drops. Is that problematic? I also use drops when I read or watch TV. Is there anything else I can do? [ 04/27/11 ]

Restasis drops work by decreasing the inflammation on the eye surface that is common in people who have dry eye syndrome. Burning after instillation of any eye drop, especially Restasis, is frequently reported by many patients, so this is not worrisome unless accompanied by redness, pain, or decreased vision. If you have dry eye syndrome you may benefit from a variety of treatments, such as artificial tear therapy, lid scrubs, punctal plugs, etc. Please speak to your eye doctor about a customized plan for your eyes. When you are watching TV and reading, you blink less and thus dry eye symptoms become worse. Artificial tears before reading or watching TV may be helpful.


How many people between 40 and 45 years of age have macular degeneration, and how many in that age group receive a diagnosis of this disease each year? [ 04/19/11 ]

According to 2004 statistical data on the “Prevalence of Blindness” provided by the National Eye Institute, approximately 20,000 persons (0.1%) between the ages of 40 - 49 have advanced macular degeneration and around 851,000 (2%) are in the early or intermediate stages of the disease. This source of this information is the National Eye Institute.


I am a 45-year-old male who was diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) 3 years ago. At a recent exam, my doctor described my condition as "borderline moderate." I know that the progression of AMD is unpredictable; however, I would like to know if the disease is always progressive if it stays in the dry form. Are there any norms or stats that indicate the average rate or progression of this eye disease? [ 04/16/11 ]

Dry age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) tends to progress at a slow rate causing a gradual loss of vision over many years to decades. When dry ARMD  eventually affects the very center of vision, called the fovea, vision is typically lost at an increased rate. In one study, the rate of significant visual loss was 8% per year, with patients over 75 years of age progressing at a faster rate. New imaging technologies have enabled doctors to identify certain people with faster progressing subtypes of dry ARMD, and specific genes have also been linked to forms of this eye disease that progress more quickly.


I am a 56-year-old male who was diagnosed with peripheral degeneration, and I also have diabetes. What is the difference between peripheral degeneration and macular degeneration? How can I find the best eye doctors in the Rochester area of New York who can help me with my particular disorder? [ 04/15/11 ]

Peripheral degeneration of the retina is frequently an age-related change with no visual consequences, though this depends on the specific type of peripheral degeneration. Age-related macular degeneration is a disease of the central part of the retina called the macula, and is unrelated to peripheral retinal degeneration. A second opinion is always beneficial for greater peace of mind, so you can either ask your current eye doctor for a recommendation or seek consultation at the nearest academic center.


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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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